30th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble peitition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are deeply concerned at the threat to the continuation of symphony orchestras throughout Australia posed by theIAC and Green reports.
We believe that the Government should not allow the symphony orchestras of Australia to be reduced in any way
Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation and growth of our symphony orchestras, thereby ensuring that the quality of life of the people of this country shall be maintained.
And your petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Nixon, Mr Macphee, Mr Abel, Mr Dobie and Mr Charles Jones.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government’s long-term policy should be to provide50 per cent of all funding for Australia’ s roads.
That at a minimum the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations for the allocation of $5,903m of Commonwealth, State and Local Government funds to roads over the five years ending 1980-8 1, of which the Commonwealth share would be 41 per cent as recommended by the Bureau of Roads.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr McVeigh, Mr Martyr and Mr Wallis. Petitions received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled.
We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Les Johnson.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads for the funding of rural local roads and urban local roads in New South Wales for the triennium 1977-1980.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Graham and Mr William McMahon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that there is absolutely no valid reason why C.B. Citizens Band radio’, should not be made available to the general public in Australia, by the amendment of the Wireless Telegraphic Act.
Citizens Band radio is so far available in many countries, such as, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, U.S.A., Italy, Sweden, Germany etc. The many thousands of Australian citizens who appropriate this basic right of communication would also like to be able to do so legally.
These citizens who provide a nation wide communications network, which is used for safety and like reasons, could do so much more effectively when legalised.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Wireless Telegraphic Act be updated to provide for Citizens Band radio in Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Nixon.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
Whereas your petitioners respectfully request consideration be given to:
Both of the above being without the prerequisite of referral by a medical practitioner.
Therefore your petitioners pray your Honourable House to legislate accommodation of these matters under the provisions of Federal law.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrCorbett.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that we are deeply concerned by your lack of support for the nomination of Elizabeth Reid to the United Nations Secretariat for the Social and Economic Development Council.
We believe that during Ms Reid’s tenure as a women’s advisor she gained world-wide support and recognition for Australia’s efforts to represent the needs and interests of all women. Her direction and drive at the United Nations Convention for International Women’s Year in Mexico City helped to unite a divided assembly and lay the groundwork for continued international co-operation towards a goal of full equality for all peoples of the world. Her international reputation is secure.
Your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will decide in favour of wholehearted support for Ms Reid’s nomination, thereby ensuring that the high quality of Australian representatives to the united Nations shall be maintained and augmented.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrHurford.
To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this humble petition respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia do humbly pray that the Australian Government:
Give urgent consideration to amendments to the Northern Territory (Land Rights) Bill 1 976 to give effect to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully urge that:
There be continuing and expanding support for child care of all forms with particular emphasis on the needs of children whose parents either work or are furthering their education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les McMahon.
– Is the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of the widespread concern throughout the trade union movement at the appointment of a presidential member of a panel of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission who only 2 days before the announcement of his appointment to the Commission appeared to argue the employers’ case against the major union within the jurisdiction of that panel? Can the Minister outline the scope of the powers enjoyed by the presidential member of a panel under section 23 (3) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
Does the Minister believe that the appointment of a panel head who has been involved so recently in the disputes affecting a union under the jurisdiction of that panel will be detrimental to industrial relations and harmony within that industry? Finally, is the Minister aware that the Storemen and Packers Union of Australia yesterday morning withdrew from the proceedings in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission because of the appointment of that particular presidential member to head the panel which deals with that union?
– The question of appointments to panels in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission- both deputy presidents who head the panels and other commissioner members of the panels -is, of course, entirely a matter for the President of the Commission. Historically, and I think wisely, the appointees to the Commission over the years have been people who are highly experienced in the field of industrial relations. I refer to both the deputy presidential members and the commissioners. Two recent appointments to the Commission have been made by this Government. One was a deputy president who fulfilled those criteria that I have just mentioned. The other appointee was a former member of the union movement. It is inevitable with the appointment of people with this sort of a background that they will be brought into contactin their work in the Commission with the same sort of organisations and the same sort of problems with which they themselves dealt in their previous roles in industrial relations in whatever field they were operating-from the union movement in some cases, or representing employers or, indeed, fields of government employment in other cases.
I have no doubt that the recent appointees to the Commission will be able to make the transition from their former field of endeavour to the Commission without any trouble. This has been our experience over a period of years. Just as deputy presidents of the Commission inevitably come into contact with people with whom they have been associated previously, so do the commissioners. Mr Commissioner Sweeney was recently appointed to the Commission by this Government. From memory, I understand that the panel of which he is a member deals with postal workers and workers of Telecom Australia. He will come into contact with former unions and members of unions with which he was previously associated. I have no doubt that as other commissioners have done before him, he will be able to assume his new role as commissioner bearing in mind the experience that he has had in the past. The withdrawal of a union from a hearing before a commissioner or deputy president seems to me a very childish action to take and one which is not in the best interests of industrial relations.
-I direct a question to the Treasurer. The Treasurer will be aware that during the recess many and varied ideas were put forward by various people and organisations on how to improve the economy. Did any of these ideas strike a responsive chord in him? Does he intend using any of them?
– During the recess a number of proposals were put forward for improvements in economic policy. I can tell the honourable gentleman that all of them have been rejected in the sense that yesterday in this House I put down a definitive and comprehensive statement of economic policy, clearly indicating the directions which this Government will take during the period ahead. One proposal which I picked up in detail was what I understand to be the Opposition’s ‘economic policy’. I use that phrase in inverted commas. It was in fact a 2-page, very scrappy, very incomplete and most inadequate document on the economy issued by the honourable member for Adelaide. It purports to be the Opposition’s alternative economic package. If one examines that Press release, one is surprised to find that there is no mention whatever of wages policy. Indeed, in that Press release equally there is no mention of external policy. What the policy amounts to is a very substantial expansion in the rate of monetary growth and a massive increase in government spending. In a letter published in yesterday’s Canberra Times, in response to an editorial in that paper, in which he sympathised with the criticisms made of his policy the honourable member for Adelaide stated in quite clear and categoric terms- a most extraordinary public statement for a shadow Treasurer in this House:
The danger in Labor’s approach is the possibility of intensified pressure of demand leading to further prolonging of inflation.
He might have gone on to say: ‘. . . and further prolonging therefore of unemployment’. It can be assumed only that Labor’s new plan is one drafted under the instructions of the Leader of the Opposition, not those of the honourable member for Adelaide himself. In this connection I am reminded of the assertions of the honourable member for Adelaide in the Press recently that there could be a challenge to the Opposition leadership and in response to a question posed to him, I think in the Australian, he said: ‘A week is a long time in politics, leave alone 4 months. I don’t know who would be the leader’. In other words, the shadow Treasurer in this House is clearly opting for a situation in which he is not prepared to say that the present Opposition Leader would in fact be returned to that position. I close on this point: Perhaps the best way of summarising a response to the program put down by the Opposition is to quote the words of the British Labour Prime Minister when recently he said:
We used to think that you could just spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I can tell you in all candour that the option no longer exists and insofar as it ever did exist, it worked by injecting inflation into the economy.
That precisely is what the Opposition in this House has proposed.
– I raise a point of order. I ask that the documents from which the Treasurer was quoting be tabled or, if he is agreeable, be incorporated in full in Hansard.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he was quoting from a document.
– I was quoting from the Canberra Times of 15 February. I am more than happy to have the words of the honourable member become a perpetual record of this House. I table the document.
-The honourable member for Adelaide has asked for its incorporation in Hansard. Is that acceptable?
– Of course.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The letter read as follows-
I can sympathise with the criticisms made in the editorial of February 9 on Labor’s alternative economic package. In current circumstances, any set of policies will have dangers as well as benefits. The danger in Labor’s approach is the possibility of intensified pressure of demand leading to further prolonging of inflation.
However, the Labor Parliamentary Executive was well aware of this when preparing the proposals.
It is difficult to see how you could be in a position to judge the amount of analysis involved in preparation of the proposals. It is, therefore, quite unfair to state that the proposals were prepared without analysis. In fact, the proposals are the result of much discussion, close consultation with expert business and academic advisers and as much quantification as inadequate current published data and limited staff permit.
This background work suggests that some relaxation of announced monetary restraints and some selective fiscal changes are possible which would stimulate the economy in particularly depressed regions and industries without significantly increasing inflationary pressure. Some of them, such as the indirect tax cuts you support in your editorial, also reduce the rate of price increase.
These changes need to be ‘moderate and responsible’, as Mr Whitlam said in his press statement on the unemployment rates. This has been the presentation of all Labor’s proposals during the past six months. In stating otherwise, your editorial is inaccurate and therefore misleading.
CHRIS HURFORD MHR for Adelaide Shadow Treasurer’
Parliament House, CANBERRA
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that in the months immediately preceding December last year net official monetary movements were a drain on domestic money supply? Is it a fact following devaluation that in December and January net official monetary movements added nearly $680m to money supply? Is this equal to an increase of about 2 per cent in money supply or about 60 per cent of the December quarter increase in money supply? Does this not indicate that to accommodate this sort of inflow and addition to money supply, and to maintain the money aggregates of which the Treasurer is so fond of speaking in this House down at the target level he has indicated, the Government will have to apply particularly severe restraints on domestic money sources and that accordingly Australian industry will have to bear particularly severe financial restraints as a result of government policy?
– In reply to the shadow behind the shadow behind the shadow Treasurer- ohe is never entirely sure who speaks for the economy in this House -
Opposition supporters- Hear, hear!
– Let me go on to say that so far as the Government is concerned the Ministry of course speaks as one, which is more than I can say for the Opposition Party. In response to the monetary questions which the former shadow Treasurer asked, clearly on this occasion again he is embarking upon what is now in the market place the same old tired cry of ‘credit squeeze’. I remind the honourable member of what I said yesterday in the House. I will not repeat those figures except to remind him of the sales of Treasury notes which now exceed $2.5 billion and of the liquid government securities ratio, particularly that which is in prospect as stated by me yesterday. So far as monetary targets are concerned, I indicated then that the Budget had those targets down on the M3 base. The honourable member did not mention whether it was Ml, M2 or M3 that he had in mind. With regard to M3, the original Budget estimates put down a guideline of between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. I said in the House yesterday that in the context of the turnabout in the capital account and, of course, in relation to the somewhat higher real growth now in prospect for 1976-77 there may be a need as circumstances unfold to revise those guidelines marginally upwards. As a matter of policy in the monetary management field the Government believes that growth in the monetary aggregates should be such as to bear down on the rate of inflation and at the same time to provide adequate capacity to underwrite economic recovery. The answer to the honourable gentleman’s first 2 questions, as I recall them, is yes. With regard to the inference about a credit squeeze the honourable gentleman is, as usual, being his destructive and irresponsible self.
– I ask the Treasurer a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Oxley to show that gentleman’s total ignorance of financial affairs. Is it a fact that in December the inflow of capital into Australia was $670m, reduced by $168m by January 12th? These figures are well worth remembering. Is it also a fact that in the last 4 weeks the inflow was, in the first of those weeks $48m, subsequently minus Sim, then plus $3m, and in the last recorded week minus $18m? That inflow has now raised our overseas reserves to the very comfortable level of $3,000m.
-Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to ask the question.
– Does this background not indicate quite clearly that following the action of the Government, particularly with regard to the special variable deposits, the effect of this inflow on the money supply will be minimal and that the Treasurer’s statement about the effect on the money supply will turn out to be close to being right?
-Order! The right honourable gentleman has gone too far.
-I welcome the support of the honourable gentleman on this and other occasions. I agree with the general thrust of his comment. Reserves as at the end of January 1977, according to the latest report of the Reserve Bank, which of course is a matter of public record, were standing at $3, 174m. The figures quoted by the honourable gentleman indicate the success of the management of the capital flow policy which I announced some time ago. It has been successful in limiting the amount of capital flow while preserving an inflow of capital for essential purposes, particularly in the manufacturing and mining areas. That general policy, while seeking to preserve the inflow of capital for that purpose, was not such as to be accommodating to a higher rate of monetary growth which would allow the inducement of a further level of inflation.
-When will the Treasurer give the House, in accordance with established parliamentary practice, details of the cuts in departmental expenditure totalling $250m which he announced last month? When will he add to his definitive statement of yesterday by giving the total amount of the further cuts in expenditure which the Government authorised last week?
– It is an irony for the former Prime Minister, as the most deceitful in this House in relation to the provision of information, to come forward seeking more information than the Government has made available. I remind the honourable gentleman of his most discreditable, disgraceful record in relation to the great loans scandal, the full story of which, as he is very much aware, has yet to be told. As I announced in my statement of 1 6 December -
– Tell us about the Licardy phone calls.
– The honourable member could not raffle a duck at a union picnic and he would be wise to remember that. As I announced, an amount of $250m in savings has been identified by the Government. I said at the time that those savings were being achieved mainly by deferring expenditures and taking steps to ensure that expected shortfalls in expenditure were not taken up and utilised for other purposes. In response to the honourable gentleman I point out that those savings arise from the special expenditure exercise following devaluation and they form part of the Government’s continuing revision of the Estimates process. I am informed that, consistent with past practice and quite contrary to what the honourable gentleman infers, the results of revisions of estimates are not being released. As honourable gentlemen are aware, the spending of Commonwealth departments is set out quite clearly as a matter of record in the normal monthly transaction statement. Beyond that, the outcome of the Government’s expenditure policies for the year as a whole is set out in detail in the Budget Papers.
I reject any suggestion whatsoever that the Government is seeking to cover up decisions on expenditure policy. My information from the Department of Finance, as I recall it, is that what has been done is in accordance with past practice. I shall check the point with that Department after question time. As a final point, I emphasise to the House that in all cases where spending has been deferred it has been done without creating disruption or causing hardship.
– I did not want to interrupt the flow of the honourable gentleman’s eloquence, but I take the point that he should withdraw the opprobrious terms he applied to me. I refer to terms such as ‘deceitful’. I particularly ask for a withdrawal because the Treasurer said that the facts have not come out. He has made 2 affidavits which have prevented them from coming out, and he is part of the Government which has refused to take over this phony prosecution.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I did not intervene when the Treasurer used that word. I was looking to see whether the Leader of the Opposition would wish it to be withdrawn. It should be withdrawn. I call upon the Treasurer to withdraw the word ‘deceitful’.
– I withdraw that term.
-I wish to direct to the Minister for Primary Industry a question which concerns the Government’s far-reaching and commendable decision to establish a national rural bank. Will the Minister inform the House of the progress made in considering the many complex matters associated with the bank’s establishment? Can he give some indication of when it is likely to be incorporated?
– The honourable gentleman, along with every honourable member who represents a rural area in this Parliament, has been concerned about the deteriorating position generally of many people in country areas and has endorsed the concept of a national rural bank. The idea was spelt out in embryo in the policy speech presented by the Prime Minister prior to the December 1975 election. Subsequent to the election the Treasurer and I met with representatives of the banks and had some preliminary discussions. I commissioned the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to update the report on rural credit which it prepared in 1972. You will note, Mr Speaker, that that was at a time when the Liberal and Country parties were in government and were demonstrating a continuing concern in this area of financial responsibility. The findings of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics have now been received both within my Department, where a good deal of work has been undertaken by officials in exploring possible alternative ways by which a mechanism can be established, and within other arms of government such as, of course, the Treasury.
We have developed a number of propositions which are now under government scrutiny.
While I can understand the honourable member’s anxiety, nonetheless it is important that any new establishment should be integrated into existing lending facilities and complement them rather than compete with them. It has been in an attempt to ensure that result that a great deal more behind the scenes work has been necessary than perhaps many people in the country expected. I am hopeful that a proposition can be developed to the point where the establishment of the bank can see the light of day fairly shortly.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Has action been taken recently by official sources to force up interest rates and to compel State governments’ borrowing programs to be floated in terms of these higher interest rates? What part do these interest rate increases play in the Government’s current economic strategy? Are they consistent with the Treasurer’s promises made in the weeks after the devaluation that there would be no such increases?
– I do not know what the honourable gentleman means by ‘recently’. I can only infer that he in fact is referring to the recently announced terms of the February loan.
– Is not the Reserve Bank functioning in the money market and forcing up interest rates?
– They have not told you yet, have they, Phil?
– I can assure the former Treasurer that this Government has a very effective consultative process with the Reserve Bank, which is more than I can say he had when he was in office. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be very well aware that the terms of the February loan are in accordance with the existing yield curve. In no sense do they connote any increase in interest rates. The honourable gentleman is very well aware also of the statement made by me yesterday in relation to the Government’s policy on interest rates. Of course we want to see interest rates brought down at the earliest opportunity, but such decisions as may be taken by the Government in the future can be taken only in the context of Australia’s rate of inflation.
-The Minister for Overseas Trade will be aware that Australia’s exports are setting new records; but I ask the Minister Is it true that our ‘invisibles’ payments also are hitting record levels? If this is so, can the Minister say what the implications of this trend are for the balance of payments situation in this country?
– It is true that our trading account is very good. Exports have been increasing considerably. However, in the current account, which includes ‘invisibles’- that is, freight, insurance, travel and investment income- we have been in a deficit situation. Our invisibles’ deficit has been increasing very substantially. In 1975-76 it went up by 46 per cent to $2,600m. This year it could go up by about another 30 per cent to about $3, 300m. This emphasises the need to keep up a good export performance. An adjustment can be made only by way of either export performance or a greater capital inflow into the country. I think we all realise that capital inflow is a very volatile factor and it is not good for a country to depend entirely upon it. So it is hoped that exporters will take the maximum advantage of our devaluation decision last year which gave them some trading advantage. Of course, I hope continuing action will be taken by the Government to encourage and to stimulate our export industries.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: When the Federal Court of Australia Act is next amended, will he give favourable consideraton to the incorporation in that Act of the financial assistance provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? In the meantime, will he give an assurance that he will continue to give sympathetic consideration to persons who would have been eligible for financial assistance in proceedings before the Australian Industrial Court?
-I understand the honourable member to be referring to sections 141a and 141b of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which enable the Attorney-General to give, in effect, legal aid in cases where union members have brought proceedings in relation to oppressive rules, or perhaps in relation to nonperformance of rules, of organisations. My understanding of the amendments that were made last December in relation to the implementation of the Federal Court proposals is that those sections will apply equally to proceedings which are instituted in the Federal Court Industrial Division. If an order nisi, for instance, is obtained from the Federal Court Industrial Division the applicant can then come to me under section 14lA in order to get financial assistance if he establishes the necessary circumstances.
– Could they get it prior to the order nisi?
– I do not think so, but that is a limitation in the section. On the other hand, in relation to section 141b a respondent can come and seek financial assistance after an order for costs has been made. I shall certainly have a further look at the matter. As I understand it those provisions apply equally to proceedings in the Federal Court Industrial Division.
-Can the Prime Minister advise the House as to the ways in which the income equalisation deposit scheme can provide assistance to primary producers whose income for taxation purposes will be increased by the inclusion of proceeds of forced sales of livestock or of insurance recoveries for losses of livestock as a consequence of the disastrous bushfires that devastated large areas of western Victoria last weekend?
-The income equalisation deposit scheme certainly will be of assistance to producers in the circumstances following the tragedy of the fires, but before indicating the ways in which that can occur I would like publicly to express sorrow and regret in regard to the very great damage that occurred. I think honourable gentlemen would know there was also some loss of life in the fires. The welfare people, the fire organisations and the Red Cross were all on the scene very quickly indeed and behaved magnificently. I, the Victorian Premier and others visited the town of Streatham, which was virtually destroyed in a few minutes, on the day after the fire. It had no power and no refrigeration. A good deal of dismay was obviously present. The Army was able to get a refrigerated van that same day to Streatham to provide some immediate assistance. That was one example of the ways in which I think everyone did what they ought to have done in the wake of the fires.
Quite clearly many producers will have a very significantly increased income in this year as a result of insurance collections, for example, in respect of livestock that have been destroyed as a result of the fires. That could put them in difficulty. They obviously cannot replace thenstock forthwith with those insurance proceeds. Half the time stock are not immediately available and in any case the producers concerned have no feed, because it has been burnt out, and fences have to be replaced. A great deal has to be done. If all that, in a sense, forced income through insurance purposes had to be taken into account in one financial year it would have the impact of breaking many producers. There have been for some time circumstances in which an unusual and forced income of this kind could be carried forward over 5 years, but the introduction of the income equalisation deposit scheme which enables producers to put up to 40 per cent of their gross proceeds into the scheme will obviously enable producers to spread their income further. The funds put into IEDs are not taxable in the year they are put in; they are taxable in the year they are put out unless of course they are withdrawn for legitimate tax deductibility purposes.
This scheme will be a very valuable addition to the facilities available to producers to enable them to recover from the great difficulties that have been caused. I might add that the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government have come to a very speedy agreement on some extensions to the normal disaster arrangements which were needed and which are particularly appropriate to this disaster. I announced these yesterday. The arrangements, I believe, are working smoothly. They cover the provision of fencing, the burial of stock and the provision of loans to people who were burnt out. They will cover the difference between insurance and what will be needed to actually get a building for the families concerned. Many would not have been adequately insured. Precedents had been set for that in the past. The Commonwealth Government and the Victorian Government certainly believe it was appropriate in this case. I have suggested to the Victorian Government that in the case of towns such as Streatham, and perhaps Cressy where 18 or 20 houses were destroyed, if it were possible to get a project builder into the towns, or under a housing trust or the Housing Commission, the houses might be rebuilt much more economically through a large contract than through each family having to pursue an individual contract. That is a matter for the State, but I believe it is a suggestion well worth pursuing.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services. Now that the High Court has declared for the second time that certain sections of the Representation Act are null and void and that the original sections of the Constitution still apply, and since there are no proposed referendums to alter those sections, what steps has the Government taken to determine the number of members in this House to which each State is entitled and to undertake the redistribution of electorates which the High Court has declared must take place in the lifetime of this Parliament?
-The Minister for Administrative Services will be making known very shortly the Government’s decisions on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition, I know, has been pressing in these matters in recent days. He will not have to curb his impatience for a great deal longer.
-Will the statement be made here too?
-A statement can be made in this House. If legislation is introduced, I should have thought that its introduction and the second reading speech of the appropriate Minister would provide an adequate forum for an expression of view on what has to be done.
– If a statement is made in the other place, it should be made here, too. If a Bill is introduced, that is another matter.
– I should have thought that the honourable gentleman would understand that legislation is necessary to overcome these matters.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. It relates to the Minister’s undertaking to provide the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with information about the contaminated debris buried at Maralinga in South Australia subsequent to the atomic tests there some 20 years ago. Is the Minister yet in a position to release this information? If so, can he inform the House of the results?
– The answer is yes. I wrote to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the third of this month, conveying to him information concerning the tests.
– It took a long while to get to me.
-The truth will ultimately reach even you. It is a matter of some regret to me that on 2 occasions I telephoned the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s office asking for his approval to release the letter publicly, to no avail. It may be an old-fashioned view, but I am not in the habit of releasing letters that are written to people. My staff has subsequently been in touch with the honourable gentleman’s office on at least 8 occasions, to no avail. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would indicate that he is agreeable to my making public the letter which I wrote to him, it would save the time of this House. I ask him, Mr Speaker. The silence is deafening. That being the case, and the honourable gentleman not being disposed to release the contents of the letter, I will tell the House the substance of the letter, without the personal flourishes of goodwill. In 1968 the British Atomic Energy Weapons Research Establishment made a report concerning material buried at Maralinga. That report was known as the Pearce Committee report. It was classified by the United Kingdom Government. As a consequence, this Government is in no position to declassify it. About the middle of last year the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council appointed an ad hoc committee to consider further the material buried at Maralinga. In December of last year its report was considered by AIRAC. The principal recommendation of that report was that the Government should undertake a further detailed study of all ecological and environmental factors associated with the burial of material at Maralinga. The Government is presently attending to that recommendation.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Is there a significant component in his defence budget of imported material for the 3 defence Services? If so, has the budget been increased to compensate for devaluation or have purchases abroad been cut as a consequence of devaluation?
– Yes. In general terms the effect of devaluation upon the defence appropriation was of the order of some $46m. I may observe, not in passing, that approximately 60 per cent of the total defence expenditure comes from Australian sources. Following the Government’s decision regarding devaluation, the Department of Defence has-
– Is that 60 per cent of all or of capital?
-Of total expenditure.
– That is just about your wages and salaries bill.
-With great respect, if the honourable member for Oxley were to devote a little more attention to defence and a little less attention to budgetary matters we would all be better off. The honourable member for Fremantle may be reassured that the Government’s decision regarding devaluation has been and still is being carefully considered by the Department of Defence. But I am not in a position to state as yet what all of the implications are.
-Mr Speaker, I address my question to you. By way of preamble I state that it is my view that the Territories should, like the States, be entitled to have members in this House in proportion to their populations. Mr Speaker, has your attention been drawn to the High Court judgment in MacKellar’s case? Is it a fact that the power conferred on Parliament by the Constitution to allow representation of a Territory in either House of Parliament does not enable Parliament to make the representatives members of this House or the Senate? If they are here as representatives of the Territories and not as members of this House, do you propose to permit the representatives of the Territories to vote in divisions, to perform your duties in your absence, to be included in the number of members to constitute a quorum or to be treated in any other way as members of this House rather than as mere representatives of the Territories?
-I have had my attention drawn to the decision in MacKellar’s case. I am not aware from a reading that the court has held definitively that there can be representatives from the Territories but that they cannot be members of the chambers. There may be some basis from some of the statements made by judges for some people to draw that conclusion but I am not able to do so at this stage.
In the third part of his question the honourable member asked whether some things would happen if Territory representatives were not members. The honourable member has asked a hypothetical question and I am tempted not to answer it. But as the honourable member’s question is specific perhaps I ought to put aside any doubt as to my actions. Members from the Territories will be able to carry on exactly as they do now. They will be able to vote, to perform my duties as Deputy Speakers and to be counted in quorums. They will be treated as members of the House unless and until there is an alteration in the law by legislative process or any alteration of the Standing Orders.
-I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact, as reported in a Sydney newspaper on 13 January, that Western Australia is likely to lose up to $ 14m- the profit of its mining boom- in general purpose payments when the Government proceeds with its plan to change the relativities between the States?
-No. The honourable gentleman ought to know that as a result of the changed arrangements that were introduced the payments to the States were increased by some $90m more than they would have been under the pre-existing arrangements. The funds that are available to the States to be used exactly as the States want rose by about 2 1 per cent. That obviously is much more than enough to cope with inflationary increases in costs and gives the States a greater capacity to meet their own requirements. I believe that these arrangements are well understood by the States. Significantly, they have enabled the States to introduce many concessions in their various Budgets without any need to increase charges of one kind or another or indirect taxation for which they are responsible. That also was a significant advance throughout last year.
Under the agreement that we have with the States, the review of the relativities between the States will be made at some time before 1980 or 1981. There is still a continuing discussion with the States about the appropriate body to undertake that review. The States differ in relation to it. It has been the firm view of the Commonwealth that it ought to be the Grants Commission. At the same time the criteria for that review have to be established. That has not yet been done. So the answer that I give the honourable gentleman is basically that I believe that under the proposals we have introduced all States are significantly better off than they would have been under the previous arrangements.
-Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations advise how many young people have been placed in employment under the special youth employment training program? In view of the serious and extensive difficulties faced by many farmers, will consideration be given to extending this program to allow farmers to train their own sons on the family farm, and will consideration be given to extending this excellent Government initiative to those we call this year’s school leavers?
-I am pleased to be able to say that the special youth employment training program, whereby subsidies are paid to employers of young people who meet certain criteria, has been an outstanding success. There are now over 4000 young people in training under this scheme who are at the same time, I emphasise, in productive employment. The criteria that have to be observed apply to farmers and farmers’ sons just as they do to anybody else. Farmers and thensons are not excluded. They do not have to meet any criteria other than those that have to be met by anybody else. Broadly, the criteria are that the applicant, the young person, has to have tested the labour market and has to have been unemployed for 6 months out of the last 12 months. The employment has to contain in it a training component. In other words, it is not merely subsidised employment; training has to be provided. The training has to lead to the gaining of a skill which is in demand in the labour market and likely to lead to permanent employment. I am pleased to be able to tell the honourable member that many young people in country areasfarmers’ sons and others- are now employed on the land, meeting the criteria of this scheme. As I said, the qualifications certainly do not need to be any different. When I announced the special youth employment training scheme late last year, I said that it would be reviewed early this year. That review is presently under way.
-I present the report of the Seventh Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks of the Parliaments of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea and Western Samoa.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act 1949, 1 present the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority for the year ended 30 June 1976.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962, I present the annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1976.
Mr STREET (Corangamite Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations); For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of the Australian Fire Board for the year 1975-76.
-(Corangamite-Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations)- Pursuant to section 27 of the National Library Act 1960, I present the annual report of the Council of the National Library of Australia for the year 1975-76.
– Pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Third Schedule of the Airlines Agreements Act 1952, 1 present the annual financial report relating to the operation of air services by Ansett Transport Industries for the year ended 26 June 1976.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission on brassieres, and copper foil etc., together with an interim report of the IAC on files and rasps.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Act 1969, I present a statement of payments made during the year ended 30 June 1976 in respect of all guarantees given under that Act.
-I think it is fair for me to say that the Attorney-General will seek my indulgence to make a short statement which, I understand, will be consented to by the Leader of the Opposition.
Yes, I seek that indulgence. This is in one sense a very pleasant duty for me to perform. Honourable members will be aware that recently Mr Charles Comans, the First Parliamentary Counsel, retired. I want to place on record in this House his years of service as a parliamentary counsel. He came to Canberra as a member of the Australian Public Service in 1936. Subsequently he joined the Attorney-General’s Department where his main interest, of course, was in the drafting section. He became the First Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman in 1949. He served as second in command, I think, to Mr John Ewens whom honourable members will recall was the First Parliamentary Draftsman for many years and who retired in November 1972. His place was then taken by Mr Comans whose retirement took effect from 4 February last.
I simply want to place on record the many years of service of Mr Comans. He is a person of considerable skill as both a lawyer and a draftsman. I should like to place on record the many hours that he has given to his duties. As all honourable members are aware, a parliamentary counsel is a person who has to be dedicated to bis duties. Not only does he have to be dedicated but also he has to be very precise in the advice and attention that he gives. Parliamentary counsel work long hours and it is appropriate, in view of the work that they do for the Parliament, that when they retire from office they should receive public acknowledgement for their work. Mr Comans, since his retirement, has been engaged as a consultant. He will continue to work as a consultant to the Attorney-General. He will be engaged in work involving legislative drafting but, of course, he will not have the higher duties of administering the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. It would have been a pity had his magnificent capacities been lost to the Commonwealth. I am happy to say that those capacities have been retained. Mr Comans will remain as consultant to the Attorney-General for a period of 3 years.
- Mr Speaker, I seek similar indulgence.
-Similar indulgence is granted.
– It is an appropriate thought of the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) to pay a tribute in the Parliament to the First Parliamentary Counsel. I warmly support all his remarks. As a part-time resident of Canberra and a long time member of the House I have known Mr Comans, naturally enough, for very many years. He was already the First Parliamentary Counsel when I became Prime Minister and, briefly, actually Attorney-General also. For the following 3 years we were constantly in touch and in consultation. He was, I must confess, appalled at the burden that my colleagues and I imposed on him and his colleagues. In fact, we got to enjoy his engagingly lugubrious manner. He was always distraught at the onerous and intractable problems we would place on his desk. Nevertheless, he and his colleagues produced an immense amount of legislation and they did it not only with diligence but with patience, expedition and skill. It is worthy of note, I believe, that never had there been in any 3 years so many pieces of legislation or in fact such a high percentage of complex pieces of legislation. It also should be acknowledged that during those years and during the subsequent year the High Court of Australia practically never declared invalid any of the legislation they drafted. There has never been such a high percentage of legislation which has been challenged and such a high percentage of legislation which has survived challenge. As the Attorney would know, it was my practice from the beginning to involve the Parliamentary Counsel and successive SolicitorsGeneral in the preparation of any legislation which any of us thought might be challenged. It was a wise precaution. The Government and the Parliament were well served. It gave us very great satisfaction as the Government to recommend that Mr Comans should be granted silk. He has been for 40 years a great public servant.
On this occasion in particular we acknowledge his service as counsel to the Parliament. I applaud his being offered and his accepting engagement as a consultant. My Government offered the same engagement to Mr Ewens and he accepted. In particular it will be remembered that he drafted the pioneering rehabilitation and compensation legislation. As I said, it is appropriate that the Attorney should have given the House this opportunity to pay a tribute to a very able man, a very great servant of the Australian people and counsel to their representatives.
-I seize this opportunity to join in the tribute paid by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) to Charles Comans, who has been a friend of mine in a personal sense for very many years and who was an officer and advisor of mine as Attorney-General and as chairman of the legislation committee of the Cabinet. I came into very close contact with him. I had an enormous admiration for his extraordinary intellectual powers, his honesty of purpose and his capacity for work. I am very glad to have the opportunity to join in the tributes paid to him.
-Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
-Does the honourable gentleman wish to make a personal explanation?
-Yes. I refer to an article which appeared in the left hand column on the front page of today’s Canberra Times.
-It could not have had a better position.
-It depends on which way you look at the page. The article refers to a function held in my own electorate last Friday. The substance of the article suggests that people at a dinner held for me by my own electoral council at which you, Mr Speaker, and leading officials of my Party in Queensland were present, developed some plot to depose the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). No one from the media who was present noticed the facts which are reported in the Canberra Times. I regard the substance of the article as a piece of pure and complete fantasy, and quite mischievous.
-In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, 1 present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Modernisation of HMA Naval Dockyard (Stage 2), Williamstown, Victoria.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s refusal to recognise the problems of Australia ‘s manufacturing industries.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
-In the time available to me I want to focus attention on what I consider to be the chaos that exists amongst industry in Australia today, specifically manufacturing industry and to make some comment on the rather amazing statements yesterday of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in their so-called economic statements that everything occurring in Australia today is going according to some grand plan which the Government hatched when it came to office on 13 December 1975. 1 put it to you, Mr Speaker, that when we talk about the industries in Australia today we have to do so in the context of the manpower policies which may be available to a government or in which a government may be interested. Today I think we have to talk about the feeling of the Government for people in employment who are threatened by unemployment, what lies ahead for the industries of Australia, and what the Government is doing to see that any structural adjustment affecting our industries has the full confidence and participation of the community.
At the outset, I wish to quote from the 1945 White Paper on full employment which was delivered at the time of the Chifley Government. There is no doubt that it was a key instrument in giving Australia a guide after the war as to what its objectives in manpower should be. The White Paper said:
Full employment is a fundamental aim of the Commonwealth Government. The Government believes that the people of Australia will demand and are entitled to expect full employment … the maintenance of conditions which will make full employment possible is an obligation owed to the people of Australia by Commonwealth and State Governments.
Let me repeat the last couple of lines: the maintenance of conditions which will make full employment possible is an obligation owed to the people of Australia by Commonwealth and State Governments.
That was the philosophy of the Chifley Government as presented to the Parliament in 1945. The string of conservative governments from 1949 to 1972 changed that philosophy. In 1967 the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Leslie Bury, made the following statement:
Australia is one of those countries which does not engage in manpower planning. We are fortunate in possessing vigorous product and resource markets in which demand and supply forces can operate freely.
One can see from these 2 approaches to employment that the Labor Party when in office was continually concerned about the people employed in various industries and the industries themselves whereas conservative governments prior to 1972 were not concerned. Today we ave a Government which is not concerned about the industries, does not know what to do about them, and subsequently has no feeling for the people who are placed in the queues of the unemployed.
Although we have heard some rhetoric from the various Ministers of this Government about what they would do for industry and the unemployed we have seen no action on this front. Obviously, when this Government came to power it did so with the overwhelming support of industry. Of that there can be no doubt. But a lot of people are now doubting the words uttered by the Government when it came to power in 1975 in relation to what it would do. The Labor Party faces the inevitability of change in industry. We know that change will take place. In coming to that conclusion one has only to observe what has occurred in the work force since 1945- the gigantic build up in the tertiary industries, the dismantling of the manufacturing industries, the lowering of the work force substantially in the rural industries and the maintenance of a very small work force in the mining industry. On most occasions we have been able to observe those changes when we have been living in a very buoyant economy. At the moment we are watching the grotesque dismantling of Australia’s manufacturing industry, when the Government has no plans either to deal with the industry itself or the people employed in it.
The changes in industry at the moment are quite significant. The Government, I charge, does not know in which direction the change is heading. It does not indicate to the public whether it agrees with that change or whether it encourages the change and the way it is occurring. It is about time that the Government told the people of Australia exactly what changes it wants to see taking place in Australia ‘s industrial affairs and in industry itself, and exactly what lies ahead. I want to give some evidence of what is occurring in Australia today in manufacturing industry. I do not want to rely upon Labor Party views or philosophy for this; I want to give evidence that has been supplied to me by people who would normally be labelled as supporters of the present Government. If we look at some of the surveys which have been made available to both the Government and the Opposition we see some very frightening features of what is occurring in industry in Australia today.
The first thing I shall refer to is the Foundry Industry Statistical Survey which was taken in the last quarter of 1976. Employment in the foundry industry when compared with a year earlier had declined nationally by 10.5 per cent. Forward orders based on weeks worked is down nationally by 27.6 per cent. I shall now state the industries to which the foundry industry is related. They are the auto industry and the rolling stock, rnining, building and other general industries. All these industries are in some way or another related to the foundry industry. Therefore, if the figures for the orders and employment as given to us by the foundry industry are correct we can see that there is some limit to work going on in all the industries related to it.
Let us look at the auto industry. Two years ago the Government told us that there would be great changes in the auto industry. In 1976 there was no growth at all in the sales of vehicles units in Australia. The industry itself is extremely pessimistic about what might happen in 1977. The Government, of course, will point to figures for December 1976 and will say: ‘This is the answer to all our prayers’. The rise in December 1976 in motor car sales and in sales of many other imported products occurred because people tended to buy the imported product. There was no great assistance for the Australian manufactured article. The figures do not give a lead as to what will happen in 1977. The Australian Automobile Dealers Association has put forward a series of reasons as to why things are not occurring in the industry which are all related to the policies of the Government. I shall list the reasons they give: Lack of consumer confidence, Government sales tax policy, availability of finance. Industry as well as the Bank of New South Wales is saying that there is a credit squeeze, but the Prime Minister tells us that there is not. It is a rather amazing piece of theatre to watch the leading spokesman for the Bank of New South Wales, Mr Prowse, telling Australia that there is a credit squeeze and the Prime Minister telling us that there is not. One would think that if there was one institution in Australia which would know whether or not there was a credit squeeze on it would be the Bank of New South Wales.
The automobile people have put forward answers to some of their problems. They want sales tax reduced immediately in order to stimulate the automobile industry. It is not just the manufacturers or the dealers who are involved; an enormous component industry is related to the problem. If the Government were serious about improving the work opportunities of the people in Australia, of course, it would take action to stimulate those industries which can employ a lot of people.
We are now talking about a situation in which we have a recession in the economy. We are not talking about a buoyant economy in which we can get some sort of stable structural adjustment. We are talking about designing policies to keep people at work, and that is missing from the policies of the Government today. If everything is going according to plan, these mass sackings that are taking place in industry today must be part of that plan. Let me read to the House what the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures told the Government 2 weeks ago about what is occurring in industry:
The VCM’s December/ January survey of 103 employers in 12 industries continues to reveal uncertainty and little optimism in manufacturing industry as a whole in Victoria.
Cost rises are still evident and imported material cost increases of up to 20 per cent have been reported.
That is the brief report made by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures. Let us now look at what John Garland-that name will send a shiver down the spines of many honourable members opposite- the Joint National Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights’ Union in Sydney, had to say to me on 3 February. This has occurred since Christmas. I shall just read out the names of the firms which are now in the process of sacking people. They are: Kirby ‘s, Victa, Sunbeam, Bradford Kendall, Crompton Parkinson and Smith Industries. They are the names of the firms from which skilled people, members of a craft union, are being dismissed right now. When is the last occasion on which honourable members of this House can remember mass sackings occurring following Christmas? If the fat has to be cut off industry it is normally done before Christmas. But here we are told of hundreds and hundreds of people being sacked. Honourable members opposite do not have to go to John Garland- they would not like to do that-the Joint National Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ and Shipwrights’ Union, of course. They can go and ask their own people about these things. They should ask the Metal Industries Association about what has happened. I understand that since I received these figures 1000 men and women involved in only 4 industries have been sacked in the Bankstown area in the last fortnight. We are receiving the same sorts of reports from all over Australia to the effect that people are being dismissed, that there are no orders coming in, that the Government is not taking any action, that the whole of manufacturing industry has a question mark hanging over its head.
Let us have a look at the effect that that is having on young people, because it is extremely important to do so from the point of view of manpower. The Liberal and Country parties formulated the terms ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘lazy surfies’ and all the other terms that were used to denegrate those people, young and old, who could not find employment in this country. Let us have a look at what the Brotherhood of St Laurence says that the Government’s policies are doing to young people who cannot put their feet even on the first rung of dignity by being able to find employment when they leave school. Let us see how that organisation appraises the effect on young people of the Government’s policies. I shall list its comments in order:
That is what the Brotherhood of St Laurence said that the Government’s policies are doing to the young people of this country. The Government tries to avoid the responsibility by saying that those young people are dole bludgers or that they do not want employment. If everything is going to plan, as the Treasurer and the Prime Minister would have us believe, what level does unemployment have to reach in this country before the plan is changed? For how long are the people on the back benches on the Government side going to sit idly by and watch people in their own electorates join the dole queues or the young people are to be refused the unemployment benefit when they leave school? That is what has happened in Australia. There is no bright future. There is no great optimism for 1977. The fact is that the Government’s plan is not working. There is no structural adjustment plan for industry in Australia, whether for the proprietors of industry or for the people who work in it.
The fact is that we are facing complete industrial chaos as a result of the policies of the Government. One cannot predict with any certainty at all what level unemployment will reach. The Government should not be believed when it says that perhaps the figures are being coloured or camouflaged by the number of people who have left school. The people who are now making up the extra numbers of unemployed are those people who are being sacked right nowtoday, tomorrow and on Friday in Sydney and Melbourne and in all our large manufacturing centres. That is what is occurring as a result of the Government’s policies. Government supporters do not have to ask us if they want that verified; they can ask their own supporters, because they are forever at our door telling us the results of the present Government’s policies and the present Government’s refusal to recognise the real problems of manufacturing industry in Australia.
– When I read the notice paper for today’s sitting I thought for one moment that at long last the Opposition might be prepared to address its mind to the fundamental problem which faces manufacturing industry in Australia. To my recollection, this is the first occasion in 13 months on which the Opposition has shown any formal concern at all for the problems facing Australian manufacturing industry. But, having listened to the remarks of the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), having listened to him use his 15 minutes as an opportunity to make generalised and emotional attacks on the Government in order to draw attention to the problems of unemployment-they are problems of which the Government is very conscious- we then heard the honourable member conclude his remarks by berating the Government for failing to face the problem besetting manufacturing industry. I believe, and the Government believes, that the great problem of manufacturing industry in Australia at the present time is a problem of competitiveness, and until such time as the competitiveness of manufacturing industry in Australia is restored and until such time as the entire community recognises the extent to which this country has priced its way out of world markets and the extent to which the domestic cost structure in this country has created difficulties for its import competing industries as well as its export industries- until that realisation come to all sections of the Australian community which are involved in, affected by and concerned with manufacturing industry- the great problem of the industry is not going to be solved.
Of course, the percentage of people employed in manufacturing in Australia has declined very sadly over the last five or six years, and the Opposition must bear its very full share of the blame for that decline. Honourable members opposite know, as do honourable members on this side of the House, that the total number of people employed in Australian manufacturing industry declined by 100 000 between May 1974 and July 1976. That was a decline of 100 000 in a period of little over 2 years. They also know that in the 5 years between 1970 and 1975 average wages in Australian manufacturing industry increased by 123 per cent, compared with a 50 per cent increase in West Germany and a 73 per cent increase in the United States. Those figures demonstrate better than any the massive decline in competitiveness which has occurred in Australian manufacturing industry. It is no use the Opposition pretending that it has an alternative solution that does not recognise the problem of uncompetitiveness in Australian manufacturing industry. Until that realisation comes to its own supporters, until that realisation comes fully to all of those involved in sections of manufacturing industry, we are not going to have any lasting solutions to the particular problems of that industry.
There is no way that considerations of wage restraint, productivity and good industrial relations can be separated from consideration of the problems of manufacturing industry in Australia at the present time. Those 3 issues will underpin recovery in manufacturing industry if the right policies are adopted towards the solution of the problems in those 3 areas. From the time this
Government came into office it has pointed to the inflationary effects of the unrestrained wage growth that occurred, particularly in 1974 and the early part of 1975. This Government has never made any apology for pointing to that growth. It has never shirked its responsibility to say to the Australian people: ‘You will not have economic recovery, a revival of manufacturing industry and thus re-employment of people and retention of people already employed unless you make your industries more competitive. You cannot make them more competitive if you continually bloat the cost structure of your local industries’. That is what occurred in a massive way between 1972 and 1975, and that is what would occur if the wages policies still, as late as today, espoused by the Opposition were adhered to. That is why the Government attaches such tremendous importance to wage restraint as an element in bringing about economic recovery and particularly in bringing about sustained recovery and growth in the import competing sector of Australian industry.
Perhaps the other illustration of the extent to which the Opposition refused to face the basic problem of manufacturing industry is the rather glib way in which it dealt with unemployment when in government. We all are concerned about the problems of people who are unemployed. This Government will yield to nobody so far as practical demonstrations of that are concerned. But the fact of the matter is that the greatest blow struck to employment in manufacturing industry over the past 10 years occurred in 1973 through the previous Government’s indiscriminate reduction in tariffs by an across-the-board figure of 25 per cent. In this House last December the analysis given by the Opposition spokesman on manufacturing, the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), who has now left the chamber, of the employment consequences of the 25 per cent tariff cut was that it probably cost 200 or 300 jobs and no more. Yet the very document on which the then Government’s decision was based estimated that the total number of people who could be affected by that tariff reduction would be of the order of 30 000. That figure was verified by notified retrenchment information given to the then Department of Manufacturing Industry by manufacturing industry affected by that tariff cut.
It is impossible to isolate the economic problems of any sector of Australian industry from the general economic problems of this country. It is impossible to talk about economic recovery being sustained without talking about the problems of wage escalation and inflation and the industrial problems this country has. It is very intriguing to hear a reference to the 1945 commitment to full employment that was made by the Chifley Labor Government. That Government did make a commitment to full employment- a commitment that remained fulfilled by successive governments until the Whitlam Government came to office in 1972. The record speaks for itself. For that period of 20 years during which sensible economic policies were pursued the commitment to full employment made in 1945 was essentially discharged.
I take the opportunity that this debate presents to inform the House of a number of decisions taken by the Government earlier this week regarding the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority. As honourable members will be aware, the Temporary Assistance Authority is governed by the provisions of the Industries Assistance Commission Act and essentially, but not exclusively, deals with the short term import problems of our import competing industries. Honourable members will be aware that the Government has had the operations of the Temporary Assistance Authority under review for some weeks. I am now in a position to announce to the House during this debate details of the changes that the Government has made. In doing so, I remind the House of the commitment contained in our November 1975 policy statement dealing with manufacturing industry, namely, that we would maintain an efficient emergency procedure to provide prompt temporary assistance to safeguard industries from damage by undue import competition and that, as necessary, we would amend the Industries Assistance Commission Act.
I make it quite clear at the outset that the effect of these amendments will be to provide both the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Government with greater flexibility in dealing with requests for temporary assistance. They will confirm the role of the TAA as the principal, although not only, body dealing with cases involving requests for temporary assistance. These decisions are quite consistent with the policy of the Government that industry assistance, temporary or long term, will not be granted without the benefit of prior investigation and report by either the IAC or the TAA. I should add in this context that one of the amendments decided upon by the Government is to make it mandatory that any inquiry by the TAA be conducted in public.
Details of the changes in their particularity are as follows: Firstly, the Act will be amended to provide that in future the Temporary Assistance
Authority will be able to recommend to the Government any form of assistance it considers appropriate. That is the current position in respect of recommendations of the IAC, whereas at the present time the TAA is limited to recommendations concerning tariffs and import restrictions only. Secondly, the present requirement in the Act that a reference be sent automatically to the Industries Assistance Commission in the event of the TAA recommending emergency assistance will be modified. In future, under the amendments, temporary assistance recommended by the Authority and granted by the Government will not continue for a period of more than 12 months without review by either the IAC or the TAA and, in addition, any industry which receives temporary assistance for a total period of 2 years within any period of 4 years will automatically be referred to the IAC for a long term report. Furthermore, the TAA will be required to recommend whether an immediate reference should be given to the IAC on the long term assistance required by the industry.
In addition the provisions of the Industries Assistance Commission Act which deal with the circumstances in which a reference for temporary assistance should be sent to the Authority will be amended to incorporate in the relevant section of the Act words to the like effect of those contained in Article 1 9 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Fourthly, the Government also will amend the Industries Assistance Commission Act to provide the Government with the same flexibility in dealing with recommendations of the TAA as apply in respect of recommendations by the IAC. This change will mean that upon receipt of a report from the TAA the Government may not only accept, reject or partially adopt the recommendations of the Authority but also take any other action it thinks fit in the circumstances.
There are a number of other subsidiary amendments which time precludes me from mentioning. The purpose of my announcing these decisions in this debate is to indicate in a practical way the manner in which the Government is prepared to respond to the particular problems of an area of Australian industry without in any way compromising the essential principles on which the industry assistance policy of this Government is based. Those principles contain, amongst other things, the maintenance of a process of independent and open inquiry and a system whereby government decisions are not taken without that process of open and independent inquiry having been utilised.
I believe, and the Government believes, that these changes to the temporary assistance procedures of the Industries Assistance Commission Act are an intelligent response to the deficiencies that exist under the Act. I believe that they will be seen as being of practical assistance to solving particular problems without in any way departing from the basis on which our industries assistance policy is predicated. The changes are another illustration of the practical concern of this Government for the continuing problems of manufacturing industry in Australia. I will conclude where I began. Essentially the problems of manufacturing industry in this country are problems of competitiveness, and until such times as the entire community accepts and realises these basic problems the long term future of manufacturing industry will continue to be difficult.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
-The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) has just given yet another example of the Government’s double standards. He indicated that under the proposed amendments to the Industries Assistance Commission Act the Government will write in a provision which will permit any other action it considers appropriate to be taken. I do not disagree with that proposition, but I point out to the House that the provision is in the Act at the moment as a result of the insistence of members of the present Government in the Senate who demanded its inclusion in exchange for the passage of the Industries Assistance Commission Bill.
The Government announced today some measures- I say some measures- which if they bring about any sort of recovery will be welcome. But the facts are that if there is to be any resurgence of employment opportunities in Australia or any reduction in the present and growing numbers of persons unemployed manufacturing industry must absorb a far greater proportion of the workforce than it does at the moment. There is no evidence from any responsible observer to suggest that that resurgence is likely to take place under any existing policies. In fact all the evidence indicates that the present decline will continue. The Minister’s main thrust concerned the provision of some assistance to enable industry to obtain a hearing before the Temporary Assistance Authority and the making of some minor changes in procedures which may assist some industries if in fact they can get their cases heard while they are still in existence. I point out at least one case last year which involved commercial vehicles. The industry concerned sought for some 7 months to get a Temporary Assistance Authority hearing. Eventually it did not get that hearing. But that is not the root cause of the problem and it is not the solution. Tariffs can be of assistance to existing industries to maintain them; they will not bong about investment in new industry nor any great expansion in existing industry for the purposes of absorbing unemployed persons.
The Minister, like most spokesmen for the Government and a number of spokesmen outside, wants the public to believe that there were no problems in manufacturing industry in Australia prior to 1974. That is a lot of hogwash. The problems in Australia’s manufacturing industries go back at least 15 years and most likely 20 years. There was a boom period. Since then there has been a gradual tapering off of investment and activity in those areas. I point out, for instance, that in the textiles industry in the Geelong area there was a far greater fall in employment between 1970 and 1972 than there was between 1972 and 1975. That is a matter of record. The textile industry is still in decline and most likely will remain in decline. The provision of temporary assistance or levels of assistance is not the answer. I think the Minister knows that as well as I do. Long term guarantees or confidence in long term operations of the industry are necessary before any capital investment will be made by any major business firm. I would think that anyone investing in textiles at the moment would be a gambler of the greatest order.
The Government is in the process of dismantling Australia’s shipbuilding industry. The Government is not prepared to give the industry the sort of assistance which the Japanese Government, which is getting orders to build Australian ships, is giving its own industry. The Government has not at this stage acted in any way on the Jackson report which was released some 15 months or 16 months ago. The House and the nation have not seen the White Paper which was promised. It may be under consideration. Some 15 months or 16 months have elapsed. That is a long time when an industry is in trouble. Employment in Australia depends very substantially on at least the maintenance and if possible an increase in the level of employment in manufacturing industry. The Government has, by policy decision, cut back on employment opportunities in tertiary areas. These are the replacement areas where people would expect to work but which no longer exist.
The major thrust of the argument of the Minister and of the Government has been that wages are the problem. Wages in Australia are high.
Standards of living are high. I think that that is an expectancy which for a long period most Australians have come to accept. I do not believe that if wages dropped to the level that exists in Hong Kong or Taiwan our manufacturing industries would be much more competitive than they are now. I am not sure that the Government has really examined whether or not there are problems of management within Australian industry. I think there are serious problems of management. I do not think that the Government is sufficiently concerned about the lack of modernisation of plant and investment in Australian industry. I use as an example the shipbuilding industry which in Australia is 20 years and possibly 30 years out of date in the type of equipment which is being used. No person, no matter how willing, can overcome the disadvantage of technological change if another person is able to use more modern methods. In fact in some industries in Australia workers are being asked to compete in productivity areas. I am disappointed that the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) is not participating in this debate. This situation is like sending men into forests with a flint axe to chop down trees in competition with men with chain saws. That sort of comparison with the machinery and the mechanical facilities available in many of our industries is a fair one. In the 1960s a number of Australian firms were taken over by overseas capital and immediately became competitive where they had not been competitive before. I can instance textile firms in my own electorate which were taken over by efficient management- I think that is the only word I can use- from what would have been at least inefficient management and immediately became productive and competitive and are still competitive in the normal sense of the word.
Problems which face manufacturing industry in Australia face the nation as a whole. If they are not solved the employment problems will grow. I do not really believe the Government has tackled the problem. In IS months it has not produced a White Paper. It has not produced the magic solutions it talked about throughout 1975. Modifying the terms of the Temporary Assistance Authority may maintain a few existing firms in the field if in fact they can get favourable decisions or can be heard. This will not create any significant new investment and will not overcome a lot of the problems of duplication and under-utilisation of plant- in many cases obsolete plant- in the industries where it is not economic, even with assistance of such things as investment allowances, to replace that plant with new plant. My electorate and the electorate of the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) are totally dependent on manufacturing industry for their survival as areas of employment and areas of prosperity for the people who work in them. There is no alternative employment for people in those electorates. I am concerned that the Government should do far more than a patch-work job. The problem is a serious one. I do not suggest that I have a solution to the problem. At the moment, without something far more substantive than what has been suggested here today or anywhere else, the problem will grow, not fade. I do not believe the Government has tackled it seriously.
-I wish to reply to one or two comments made by previous speakers on the Opposition side. I think, in fairness, I must acknowledge the concern of and have some sympathy for the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) because, as he has correctly stated, we have a similar problem. He said that the textile industry in his electorate apparently suffered a greater problem before 1972 than after 1972. I have some figures that show the effects of the 25 per cent general tariff cut which took effect on 19 July 1973. In August 1 973 the number of people unemployed was 1.4 per cent of the work force. As a result of that 25 per cent tariff cut the number rose to 4.5 per cent in February 1975. The actual number of people unemployed rose from 81 000 to 292 000. 1 dare say that the honourable member for Corio was fortunate if the textile industry in his electorate was not part of that debacle. I assure him that my electorate and many other electorates were.
While the Opposition acknowledges that there is an unemployment problem, it tends to overlook that the problem was created basically in the 3 years of Labor administration. What the figures tell is really not that far from the truth. The number of unemployed rose almost to the level at which it is now. It was only about a 0.2 per cent difference. As a result of that 25 per cent tariff cut many industries were forced to close. It is a strange thing but the Australian Labor Party has the very funny idea that an industry which is forced to close by action of a government can suddenly, for no reason at all, without further capital investment, after all that has been lost previously, reopen. It does not work that way. When the Labor Party in office forced many industries to close it created the real problem facing the manufacturing industry in this country. Industries which closed or which were forced to retrench and which lost immense profits because of the actions of the Labor Government cannot recover quickly. Many of the shareholder investors would not want to take the risk of such government attack again. As one of my colleagues said, our attempts to convert the awful situation that we inherited in 197S are somewhat akin to trying to stop the tide. The tide goes out, pauses, comes back. That is exactly what is happening. I believe that we have stopped the tide. We have achieved that. We have not increased the rate of inflation. We have slightly reduced it. We have taken steps to help industry. They will show up this coming year.
I dispute the comments of the honourable member for Corio that there are no signs of recovery. I have spoken to representatives of many industries. They are quite happy with the way things are shaping. In a debate yesterday the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) commented that there was no improvement in industry. There is. Industry is starting to show the effects of the action which we have taken. It appreciates that when we came into office it at last saw the chance of being able to solve the awful problem which it was facing of going out of business. It is not easy to solve the problems that resulted from the tariff cuts and from the import quotas in the textile and footwear industries. It is not an easy thing to say that an industry should suddenly re-employ 200 000 people who have been thrust out of work. It is a matter of getting confidence back into the industry. That is what this Government is proposing to do. It is a matter of record that the number of unemployed in the manufacturing workforce at August 1973 was 1.2 per cent. The number rose to 4.8 per cent by November 1975.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) referred to the era of the former Labor Party Leader, Ben Chifley, who apparently set out the program and policy of the Labor Party to provide, above all things, the opportunity to create continued employment. I wonder whether the honourable member for Port Adelaide thought about that policy of Mr Chifley when, during the 3 years of Labor Government, the number of people unemployed rose from approximately 2 per cent to about 5lh per cent, thereby creating an extra 200 000 people unemployed. Surely the Chifley principles went out the window when the desires of the previous Government to socialise this country were implemented.
This Government has a real concern for industry. We have taken positive steps to create certain assistance for the whole of the Australian manufacturing and commercial area. We have introduced a stock valuation adjustment scheme which will offset the current attack of inflation on stock prices which, in turn, will mean that business houses, manufacturers or commercial retailers will have the opportunity to bring their stock into valuation at the appropriate time and at a real and correct figure. This, in turn, will mean added profits to companies. This, in turn, will mean that companies will have the opportunity to invest, the incentive to increase production and to provide opportunities for jobs. It is all part of the plan, and it will all work.
We introduced tax indexation. It will really start to bite with the increases in wages during this year. As the wage level rises to a certain taxation level the work force, the people receiving wages, will find that they have more money in their pockets. This will give them the opportunity to spend that money. The spending of that money in the private sector will mean that there will again be a demand for goods which, in turn, will mean increased productivity. At least we hope it will mean increased productivity. Unlike the previous Government, which tried to divert everything to the public sector, we are trying to boost the private sector. Demand for goods means increased jobs. Let me quote what the President of the Labor Party, Bob Hawke, said on his return from Japan. He said that the Japanese employee is in a much better position in relation to benefits and conditions than his Australian counterpart. Bob Hawke conveniently forgot to mention one simple little thing. The Japanese rate of productivity is much higher than ours. That is one reason that Japanese employees are able to get those better conditions. It is a simple matter of logic that if productivity is increased the benefits flow not only to the manufacturer and the shareholder, but also to the employee. Not only do the benefits flow to the employee, but also there are a greater incentive and a greater demand which result in a need for more employees.
The member for Port Adelaide commented about the lack of jobs. He named a company in Sydney, I think it was, that was planning to sack a number of people. Let him check out the various metropolitan newspapers any weekend he likes, and he will see the number of jobs advertised for skilled tradesmen. I understand that at present an inquiry is being carried out by the Premier of Victoria into a claim that a firm in Melbourne was looking for 300 employees but could not get one. Why is that happening? I believe that one of the major problems is a lack of skilled tradesmen. We are certainly getting a surplus of academics and unskilled workers. That is regrettable. Our Government has taken steps to help untrained youths to gain training through the apprenticeship scheme which we have introduced. We have provided a rebate to allow apprentices to attend full time training. Under the National Employment and Training scheme we have provided the opportunity for young people to be employed while learning an occupation, rather than paying them to attend a school, as they were under the previous Government. We have introduced a youth employment training scheme which provides a subsidy to employers to encourage them to employ the youth of the country. These are only 3 steps designed to assist the young people and I am sure many more will follow.
This Government has taken positive steps to assist the young and to assist not only manufacturing industries but also all industry in this country because we believe that if we can make industry profitable and effective we will overcome the unemployment situation.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is now concluded.
Debate resumed from 18 November, on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition opposes the Bill. It is a useful reminder that the Fraser Government can be just as irresponsible in keeping its promises as it has been in breaking them. Ostensibly the Bill deals with so-called political appointments to the Public Service. Its real purpose is to give a look of substance and respectability to one of the sillier campaign slogans of the Liberal Party. Any Bill that sets out to correct an anomaly or deal with a particular problem is more likely to be convincing if the Government first explains clearly where the anomaly or the problem lies. The Fraser Government has not done so. It cannot do so. Insofar as the Bill identifies a problem, it identifies the wrong one. Insofar as it proposes a solution, it is a solution which will do more harm than good; a solution which the Government has itself flouted in its own appointments; a solution contrary to the advice and the spirit of the Coombs Royal Commission set up to investigate these very matters.
The Bill had its origins in a piece of singularly empty and specious electioneering- the cry of no more ‘jobs for the boys’. Leave aside for the moment the long list of jobs for the boys conferred by previous Liberal governments and by the Fraser Government itself. They are not the nub of the matter. Leave aside the question, to which I shall return, of whether any public servant can be truly said to be impartial. That is not the nub of the matter. The nub of the matter is how to make the best possible appointments to the Public Service, both from inside and, if necessary, from outside it. It is to ensure that the Public Service is as adaptable, as contemporary, as relevant and as efficient as governments can make it. It is to ensure that the Public Service meets the demands and pressures, not only of changing governments, but also of changing times and circumstances. It is to ensure, not only that governments are well serviced by the bureaucracy, but also that the people are well served. Not one of these great and important issues is dealt with by this Bill. Instead we have a gimmicky little measure which will defeat even its own limited objective. It will make senior public service appointments not less politicised, but more. It will make the bureaucracy a more closed and rigid structure than it is now.
What is the objective of this Bill? The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) referred in his grandiose way to concepts of political impartiality, objectivity, neutrality and so on. These notions are commendable enough as far as they go, but they evade the fundamental question: How is impartiality to be achieved? Can it be achieved at all? I do not want to dwell too long on matters of theory, but we do need to be clear on some basic concepts. To begin with, I think it is obvious that any appointment of an establishment figure to a senior position, however strong his political views, will pass more or less unquestioned, but the appointment of anyone remotely connected with the cause of dissent will immediately arouse criticism. How do we define impartiality? It is not at all clear what the words impartiality’ or ‘objectivity’ can mean in relation to either the tendering of advice or the implementation of decisions. A recommendation to Ministers on whether to spend $ 10m on the education of the disadvantaged or not to spend it and reduce the deficit, can be argued in many ways, but the recommendation will always rest upon the values we attach to particular ends. We all know that public servants in different departments, all of them presumably impartial and objective, can arrive at quite contrary recommendations on the basis of the same facts. It is not so much that public servants, like all of us, have human failings and thus have their prejudices, their hidden assumptions and their unrecognised preferences. It is more that the subjects on which senior public servants need to advise, or need to make administrative decisions, concern the distribution of wealth and power. These are not questions of objective fact but of political values.
Sir Robert Menzies said of his experience in 1949 when he took over from a Labor administration:
At the very outset I was told by people in my party organisation that certain men in the Prime Minister’s Department were or had been officers or members of the Labor Party. I recall my reply with some satisfaction. ‘So long as they are competent and honest men, what of it? Kissing will not go by political favour in my department! ‘
It must be said that Sir Robert came closer to the heart of this issue than his present successor and admirer has managed to do in the Bill now before us. In short, it is not particularly useful, and I doubt that it is possible, to talk of public servants in terms of their impartiality or objectivity. The main criteria of a man’s effectiveness, I believe, are his competence, his qualifications, his experience, his integrity and his character. These are the qualities every government must look for in appointing public servants, for the good of the service and for the good of the community.
With these considerations in mind let us look at the men whose appointments have been subject to contention. I must say that I regret the need to discuss individuals in this context. The issue is one of far-reaching general importance and ought to transcend particular personalities. Besides, any discussion of individuals tends to be futile because it is easy to produce examples of so-called political appointments from both sides of politics. Indeed the list on the conservative side is far longer. In 1974, in answer to a question on notice, I had prepared a table showing the number of Liberal and Country Party members and ex-members, ministers and ex-ministers, senators and ex-senators and past and present party officials appointed by Liberal-Country Party governments to offices of profit under the Crown. The list contained 36 names ranging from Governor-General and Chief Justice to members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I seek leave to incorporate the list in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The list read as follows-
– I notice, Sir, that I omitted the name of ex-Senator General Wordsworth who became Administrator of Norfolk Island. The list has since been extended by the appointment of Mr England as Administrator of the Northern Territory, Sir David Fairbairn as Ambassador to The Netherlands and Sir Nigel Bowen as Chief Judge of the new Federal Court. I make no criticism of these men nor, for the purposes of this debate, of any other Liberal appointments. What should concern us, as always, are their qualifications for their job and their record and integrity as public officials.
It is to the great shame of the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister that men appointed by my Government had their reputations impugned and their characters maligned for purposes of pure political propaganda. Yet when we look at the records and achievements of these men what do we find? First, that their qualifications are unimpeachable; and secondly, that in all cases they have either been retained by the Fraser Government in the posts to which they were appointed or have been offered other posts of high standing and responsibility. Dr Wilenski ‘s appointment as permanent head of the Department of Labour and Immigration was attacked on the grounds that he is a member of the Labor Party and worked as my Principal Private Secretary. He is a career public servant who joined the service in 1967 at the bottom, that is, as a trainee, and through the normal promotion procedures worked his way up to First Assistant Secretary level at the time of his appointment. This is the level from which many permanent head appointments are made. It is quite usual, as the Prime Minister well knows, for senior public servants in policy areas to have served for a period as private secretary to a Prime Minister or a minister, and neither Australian custom nor the Public Service Act prevents membership by public servants of political parties. It is worth recalling in this context the appointment last year of a new Chief Electoral Officer. I have a high regard for the man appointed, but there was scant reference in the media to the fact that he was a private secretary to Mr Harold Holt. Imagine the outcry if a Labor Government had appointed the private secretary of a Labor Prime Minister to be Chief Electoral Officer.
Does anyone doubt that Dr Wilenski ‘s record amply fitted him for a First Division appointment? He holds degrees in medicine from Sydney University, a Master of Arts (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) degree from Oxford, a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard and a Master of Arts (International
Affairs) degree from Carleton. He was a visiting fellow in the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in 1972 and again in 1976 and is now the foundation Professor of Management in the University of New South Wales. He has held senior posts in the Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs, serving in Saigon and Ottawa. He was a special adviser to the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration. Does anyone question his fitness to be head of a department? More to the point, does anyone know the name of his successor?
At least we know the name of Mr Spigelman ‘s successor. It is Mr Green. Does anyone suggest that Mr Spigelman was less suited to the task of administering media and broadcasting matters than Mr Green? I list his accomplishments: Firstclass honours in Arts and then in Law at Sydney University, University Medallist in Law, President of the Students Representative Council, author of a book on secrecy in government, former member of the Australia Council and member of the Council of the Film and Television School. The present Government has appointed him to the Law Reform Commission. I mention Mr Menadue. His ability and integrity have been publicly praised by the Prime Minister. He was a senior executive of News Ltd. He served as head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet not only under my Government but also for the best part of a year- from 1 1 November 1975 until 20 September 1976- under the Fraser Government. He is now Ambassador to Japan. There could be no more eloquent rebuttal of the criticism of these men than the posts to which they have succeeded in other walks of life and under the Government which attacked their original appointments.
The Prime Minister tries to give the impression that the Labor Government somehow stacked the First Division with political appointees. The suggestion is baseless. Many of the best and most valuable heads of departments would not be in their present jobs today if Labor had not appointed them, and in some cases persuaded them to join the service from outside. All told, my Government made 21 appointments to the First Division. Of these, 17 were inherited by the Fraser Government. Of the 17, no fewer than 13 were retained in their posts by the incoming Government, and 10 are still in the posts to which my Government appointed them or in similar positions, despite numerous opportunities to reshuffle the permanent heads. The Fraser Government could have got rid of every one of them if it wanted; it kept them on. But the question raised is this: Is every man or woman appointed from outside the Public Service to be regarded as a political appointee? The idea is laughable. Yet that is the clear and offensive implication of this Bill.
Liberal governments made 3 appointments to the First Division from outside the Public Service. One of them, Sir Hugh Ennor, is still there. His appointment was an excellent one; so were those my Government made from outside. We secured the services of Mr Halton as Secretary of the Department of Transport. Would we ever have got Mr Halton, an acknowledged success in his present position, to forsake a distinguished career in Canada if he had known that within 12 months he might be thrown out of his job, even though there would be some sort of financial recompense for him? Would we have secured the services of Dr McMichael as head of the new Department of Environment? Was there anyone as well qualified in the Federal Service to head a new Department of Environment as he, with his experience in this field in New South Walesunder a Liberal government, if one wants to make the point?
It is no reflection on the ability and integrity of permanent public servants to say that these outside appointments have strengthened the Service as a whole and benefited the Australian people. Plainly, we must be looking for ways in which the structure of the Public Service can be loosened and improved. We do not want a structure which discourages outside appointments or entrenches a ruling clique. That is one reason, among others, why the Labor Government appointed the Coombs royal commission. It was the first full scale inquiry into the working and structure of the Federal Public Service for half a century. After 2 years of investigation it characterised the senior divisions of the Australian Public Service in these terms:
The present characteristics of the career service enable the administration to function to some degree as a self-contained elite group exercising significant power generally in the interests of the status quo, but without effectively being accountable for its exercise.
That grave charge is ignored by the Fraser Government. Indeed, this Bill will go further in entrenching a self-contained elite. What a commentary on the Fraser Government it is that its first legislation on the Public Service since the presentation of the Coombs report should fly in the face of that report and ignore the fruits of a long, costly and exhaustive inquiry to which the Liberals paid lip-service when the report was released.
Instead of loosening the top level structure of the Public Service, this Bill will make it tighter and more exclusive. It will do so by placing enormous new powers in the hands of the Chairman of the Public Service Board. The Prime Minister pretends that the Chairman will in some way guarantee non-political appointments based on merit alone. How can he? And why should he? The great weight of power and influence in deciding future appointments to the First Division will rest with a committee consisting of the Chairman and at least 2 permanent heads appointed by the Chairman. In other words, the existing bureaucracy will call the tune. Whenever a vacancy is due to come up the committee will convene and nominate what the Bill describes as established candidates ‘-one might rather say establishment candidates’. True, outsiders may be nominated; but who would know of them, and who among the senior bureaucracy would be likely to favour them? Whose advice would be taken? The Prime Minister specifies 2 persons whose opinions may be sought ‘as a normal course’- the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department and the retiring permanent head of the department concerned.
– It does not say that in the legislation.
Mr E. G. WHITLAM No. That was the Prime Minister’s gloss in his second reading speech. It is not difficult to imagine where their sympathies would lie. Given their experience and temperament, and given their human nature, they are far more likely to prefer one of their own circle than an unknown from outside. And even if they favoured an outsider or a newcomer in principle, what likelihood is there that they would choose the best man- or know the best man?
The Coombs report is quite specific, and I believe quite correct, in its approach to this question. Its recommendation 49 states, on page 98, that when it is intended to appoint a departmental head-
That is, the Chairman should have no power to recommend an appointment or preside over a recommending committee. He should merely be consulted on the appointment of the panel. There is all the difference in the world between this procedure and that proposed by the Bill. The Bill gives a degree of power to the Chairman which has never been envisaged by any elected government. One can easily see the effect of this change on the appointment of the Chairman himself. The role of the Chairman in choosing permanent heads will make his own office a crucial political appointment. At the very least, governments will want to ensure that the Chairman is a man they can trust, a man of their own political sympathies. It is idle to pretend otherwise. Rather than the Bill depoliticising the Service, the Service will be politicised from the very top. And the political influence will reside not with elected politicians but with permanent heads who already have power to appoint to all positions below the First Division.
The Prime Minister’s homilies about principle and impartiality and so forth would carry more weight if the Government had remotely observed the procedures it is now purporting to lay down. In practice it has ignored them. The point of this legislation is presumably to ensure that appointments to the First Division carry the endorsement of an outside committee. Has the Government followed such a procedure in making its appointments to date? Of course not. In fact, Ministers have gone out of their way to assert a contrary principle- the Minister for Foreign Affairs has even called it a ‘fundamental principle’- that the authority to nominate a permanent head is vested in the Minister alone. That has always been the convention and the practice. It is not surprising that this Government should want to overturn a convention, but let it at least agree on what should replace it. In making the key appointment of Mr Shann to the Public Service Board it would have been seemly, to say the least, if the Prime Minister had waited for this Bill to be passed or had at least observed the procedures laid down in it. Why was the Prime Minister so anxious to jump the gun? He has made an appointment an appointment which will run for 5 years. He made sure that his personal choice was not going to be fettered or overturned by any nonsense about independent committees. His objective was clear Get in first with the key appointment and leave the window-dressing till later.
No one doubts that all the recent appointments of permanent heads have been made on the say-so of the Prime Minister and the Ministers concerned. Was Sir Alan Cooley ‘s appointment anything but a top-level political decision?
Was Mr Carmody ‘s or Mr Parkinson’s? Let us have an end to this cant and nonsense about nonpolitical appointments. The Age of 29 January reported that neither Mr Shann nor Mr Parkinson was on the lists proposed by the Public Service Board for head of the Board or the Department of Foreign Affairs. Three reputable journalists reported at the time Mr Parkinson’s appointment was announced that the Prime Minister had chosen him personally against the wishes of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). Mr Allan Barnes in the Age of 13 October, Mr Oakes in the Sun News-Pictorial of 16 October and Inside Canberra of 15 October all stated emphatically that the Prime Minister, in effect, had reshuffled the Foreign Affairs Department to bring his personal choices into positions of influence and authority. The Foreign Minister denied this in a personal explanation in the House on 19 October. He said:
I nominated Mr Parkinson to the position and the Prime Minister and Cabinet later concurred. I make this statement not merely to correct inaccurate reporting but to reaffirm what I regard to be a fundamental principle, namely, that a Minister is vested with authority, subject to Cabinet approval, to nominate his permanent head. Mr Parkinson was my personal choice.
And the Prime Minister’s too, no doubt. But why not? The Foreign Minister was not to know that in rebutting one version of the way the Government appoints public servants he was also rejecting the very method which the Government was later to proclaim.
My own view is that the government of the day should be allowed the permanent heads that it wants, and should be able to remove either its own or its predecessors’ appointments when it finds them unsatisfactory, provided that suitable compensation or alternative employment is offered. This of course is possible, and has always been possible, under the Act as it stands. In that respect the amendments will change little. All they will do in practice is divide the First Division into 2 tiers, one having the usual tenure and the other a somewhat modified version. To my mind the whole concept of tenure is dated and irrelevant. The conventional theory, with which I cannot agree, is that security of tenure is necessary so that permanent heads will always be willing to provide unpalatable advice to Ministers without fear of losing their jobs. There seems to be a fetish about tenure in Australia- in the Public Service, in the universities and in corporation. As politicians, of course, we can disparage the idea of tenure for a certain period or for one ‘s life. I have seen some permanent heads shrink from giving such unpalatable advice and others fearlessly provide it, just as I have seen ministerial advisers without tenure give unpalatable advice and others withhold it. The valuable tradition of frankness and forthrightness in Public Service advice is sustained not by security of tenure but by the character and integrity of the men and women appointed to senior positions. In all cases it is men and women who matter most, not red tape. With this Bill the Government is creating an unnecessary source of bureaucratic power and patronage and setting back the reform and modernisation of the Public Service for which the Coombs report showed us the way. The tragedy of this Bill is its clear announcement that the historic and valuable Coombs report is to be virtually thrown away.
-I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) with great interest. I agree with a certain portion of what he said but I disagree strongly with other portions of his comments. I am surprised that the Parliament itself has not displayed more interest in this Bill. I think it is a milestone. Although many people have tried to suggest that it is simply a machinery BUI or a relatively unimportant Bill, I think this Bill can mark the beginning of the politicising of the Public Service. Strangely, the basic aim of the Bill- I believe implicitly the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street)- is to take the sting out of the politicising of the Public Service that took place under the Labor administration. Therefore, the purpose being advanced for the introduction of this Bill is, in fact, to de-politicise the Public Service. With great respect, I have another view, and to this extent I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. This will leave the way open for the politicising of the Public Service, and I support that view. I have a great deal of sympathy for the proposal to politicise the Public Service. This is a classic argument, and one could mount a very respectable argument on both sides.
Having been a Minister and having administered six or seven portfolios in my career, I have nothing but admiration for the integrity, the ability and the skill of the kind of people the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, the public servants, particularly the senior ones. But what happens when we have a change of government? We must look at this matter in context because there was not a change in government in Australia for 23 years. It was relatively simple for an election to be held; the Liberal and National Country Parties were returned; the same public servants were employed, and there was continuity. In 1972 something happened. There was a change in Government. Men in the Public Service who had been almost saturated with Liberal-National Country Party philosophy for more than 20 years had to confront a political party at the other end of the political spectrum, and there must have been difficulties. As much as I admire the integrity, the ability and the honesty of senior public servants, I am not prepared to believe that they are political eunuchs. In fact, if they are political eunuchs they should not be holding senior positions in the Government. I am not going to be persuaded that there are certain areas of policy that do not have a heavy political content.
Can any honourable member tell me that the social welfare POliCY of the Labor Party is not different from the social welfare policy of the Liberal Party? Can any honourable member tell me that the policies of the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in relation to health, foreign affairs, defence, industrial relations and the Treasury are not diametrically opposed? In almost all these areas a deep philosophical cleavage exists between the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. If a civil servant who has been used to receiving and implementing the policies of one government is confronted, through a change in government, with a diametrically opposed policy then certainly there will be problems. I believe that in certain areas difficulties would arise, but this would not be through any fault on the part of the public servant or through any lack of ability to adapt. I say with great respect that this Bill facilitates the creation of a great temptation on the part of a government to instal as permanent head a man who will implement his party’s policies. I can understand but do not necessarily condone the actions of the Labor Government in its appointment of the 3 men mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition- Dr Wilenski, Mr Spigelman and Mr Menadue- two of whom I know personally. I have absolute and utmost respect for the integrity, honesty and ability of the 3 men but they are known members of the Labor Party.
– What is wrong with that?
– Nothing is wrong with that. I am simply saying that the problem is that the Leader of the Opposition in fact overtly politicised the Public Service by making those 3 appointments. Dr Wilenski is a very capable man.
– Where did Jim Short come from? He came out of the Treasury.
-I cannot see the relevance of that interjection from my friend because the man has been democratically elected to the Parliament by the people. If you are going to tell me that the people of the electorate of Ballaarat should not have elected Jim Short simply because he came out of the Treasury I would suggest that argument is of the highest absurdity. I am sure that a man of your wisdom would not suggest that, so I must have misunderstood you.
– He was working for a Labor government.
-The House will come to order.
– I do not know whether my friend believes me or not but I am not now trying to make a political point. I am enunciating a principle and observing a fact that the Leader of the Opposition did make 3 political appointments. I challenge the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis), who is to follow me in this debate, to deny that. I do not think it is a dishonourable thing to make such appointments but I think that that famous man Blind Freddie could see that they were 3 political appointments. They did credit to themselves in the positions they filled. Yet the Leader of the Opposition speaks with a holier than thou attitude and says that we are politicising the Public Service. This Bill does permit a government under certain circumstances, according to very careful guidelines which will act as safeguards, to make political appointments but if a government in the future does so, the appointment will not be permanent and the appointee at the time of accepting the appointment will know that it is for a period of only 5 years or for a lesser term and that he will be eligible for reappointment. That seems to me to be a very honest way of doing it. It seems to me to be very honest of the Prime Minister to bring down such a Bill and for the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street), who is sitting at the table, to handle it because it brings this out into the open by saying: ‘Yes, there have been political appointments and maybe there will be political appointments and if there are let them be made under these guidelines and with these safeguards’.
My own personal philosophy is that I support the principle. I do not believe that the whole of the Public Service should be ravaged as happens under the American system when every time there is a change of government there is a change in every permanent head. There are many government departments where the political persuasion of the incumbent permanent head does not matter. One would not imagine that the permanent head of a Department of Works need be of a certain political persuasion or, if he is, whether that would affect the carrying out of his functions, but I certainly believe that in respect of those other departments that I did mention which have a heavy political content, the position is much more important. Maybe I am getting too mature or too browned off to bother about making political points in this place. I do not like doing it any more, but when the Leader of the Opposition mentioned what we were supposed to have done in respect of Mr Menadue, Dr Wilenski and Mr Spigelman I wonder what the Labor Party did with a very distinguished public servant, Dr Hal Cook. Labor was not in office for 5 minutes before he was banished. The reasons given for his banishment are well known. He is a very highly competent man. He is a distinguished man. He was given some roving committee in Europe with the grandiose title of something plenipotentiary. Obviously that was a movement for political reasons. If the Leader of the Opposition is going to oppose this Bill, as I understand he is, I can believe that he might be doing this as a matter of principle but when you stand up for a principle, your own hands, your own heart and your own conscience have to be clean on that principle before you continue espousing it.
There is another thing which the Leader of the Opposition said which I believe ought to be contradicted by the first speaker from this side who replies to him. In his speech he said that the key man in the Prime Minister’s new scheme is the Chairman of the Public Service Board. Then he said these words:
Therefore he has got a man you can trust’.
But he said it with the intonation, which unfortunately will not appear in Hansard, not with a sneer but with a leer maybe. He meant, that in future the Government will be appointing a man who it knows will bend its way politically. That is what he meant. There is no question about that. A couple of paragraphs further on in his speech he said that: “They got in quickly with Mr Mick Shann ‘s appointment’.
Joining the two together the inference is that Mr Fraser thinks or the Liberals think that Mr Shann is a man we can trust in the sneering sense in which the Leader of the Opposition meant it. I go on record as having known Mick Shann for many years and I certainly say he is a man we can trust. It is not just the Liberals who can trust him; he is a man the Parliament can trust and he is a man Australians can trust. He is a man of great distinction and of enormous integrity. I thought that the way in which the Leader of the Opposition referred to him was an uncalled for and unwarranted slur on a man who has given his whole lifetime to the Public Service.
In conclusion I support the Bill for 2 reasons. Mainly, I support it on principle. I am not averse to the Public Service being politicised in certain circumstances. If it is going to be politicised I believe it should be done honestly and this Bill brings out into the open that kind of an appointment which is a political appointment and it will not permanently disadvantage other career people in the Public Service who have served their lifetime in it.
If I may have the indulgence of the House for one moment to raise a matter which may not be entirely relevant to this Bill, I am rapidly coming to a view that not only should this change in our system be made to the Public Service but I have expressed for many years the view that it is time Australians looked at the system of Westminster government and maybe it is time we looked at appointing from outside the Parliament as Ministers people with the necessary expertise. I am firmly of the view that not until that time will the executive- the individual congressman, as he is known in the United States, when formed into a committee with the proper research and backup facilities- be truly responsible and accountable to Parliament. I believe that view is consistent with the initiative that has been taken as far as the Public Service is concerned. I strongly support the Bill.
-The Bill now before the House introduces a formalised system of appointment of First Division officers in the Public Service. It prescribes ways in which some permanent heads can be removed from their position and it prescribes limited tenure of office for some permanent heads. An interesting aspect of this legislation is that the Government has found it necessary to introduce it at aU. In so doing it has gone beyond the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration- the Coombs Commissionwhich concluded that such legislation would be unnecessarily inhibiting. One must then ask: Why is the Government introducing this legislation which the royal commission which studied Australian Government administration said was not necessary? The answer seems to be that before the royal commission reported in 1976 the present Prime Minster (Mr Malcolm Fraser) promised in November 1975, that is, in a pre-election period, that such legislation would be put before the Parliament by a Liberal-National Country Party government. This, of course, was in the context of making political mileage by asserting that the Labor Government had in some way or other transgressed proprieties by appointing as permanent heads a few highly qualified and competent persons who had been associated with the Labor Party. Thus the Government’s motivation for this legislation is political rather than based on practical requirements. For that reason, if for no other, it is opposed by the Opposition. In fact, there are many aspects of this legislation that we find disagreeable and which provide a further basis for our opposition. The Public Service Act as it now stands enables permanent heads to be appointed on the recommendation of the Public Service Board or, alternatively, they may be appointed by the Governor-General without reference to the Board. In practice the Prime Minister and the Minister of the department concerned consult the Board and recommendations are subject to Cabinet approval before being submitted to the Governor-General. At least that is the way things operated until the Fraser Administration took over. I cannot say for sure whether that practice is still being followed.
The Royal Commission recommended that a set procedure be adopted which would still have left the power of appointment finally to Cabinet as has been the practice. It recommended that the vacancy be first advertised; that a panel be nominated by the Prime Minister and the Minister concerned, after consulting the Chairman of the Public Service Board to nominate a short list of suitable persons; that Ministers have the right to nominate a potential appointee for consideration by the panel; that the Chairman provide a short list in order of preference of potential appointees to the Minister concerned and the Prime Minister; and that the Minister and Cabinet approve the ultimate selection. It also recommended that these procedures should be used to review existing appointments of all departmental heads who had served as head of a department for more than 5 years. It was strongly of the opinion that 5 to 7 years was quite long enough for a departmental head to serve without review of his position and that in general he should be relocated in another department after that time.
The Bill now before the House, however, ignores these sensible recommendations. Instead it introduces a formalised system that is a bureaucrat’s dream. Indeed, there can be no doubt that this Bill has been drawn by the First Division officers in such a way as to maximise their own security and preserve their power. It introduces a 2-tier system of permanent heads in which the bottom tier will consist very much of the poor relations. At the upper level there are to be established candidates or established permanent heads who will almost invariably be career public servants and who will enjoy the advantage of security of tenure. On the lower level there will be non-established candidates or officers who will have no more than a 5-year appointment and who will be subject to dismissal on a change of government. These officers will be those who will be appointed although not endorsed by what the Prime Minister described in his second reading speech as ‘due process’. That term ‘due process’ is a complete misnomer, in our view. The Bill lays down a procedure for nominating persons as being suitable for appointment as a permanent head and it is that procedure which the Prime Minister describes as due process’. This gives it far more respectability than the procedure is entitled to receive.
The procedure is drawn up so as to institutionalise what we may describe as the old boy network. It gives the power of selection formally and definitely to those who usually exercise it already. It does this by providing that where a vacancy occurs the Chairman of the Public Service Board shall make a report to the Prime Minister as to suitable candidates and that in addition, after consulting the Prime Minister, he shall appoint a committee to prepare a report on suitable persons for that vacancy. The other members of the committee must be permanent heads too, thus ensuring that it is all kept in the club. It is open to this committee of top level public servants to recommend a non-public servant as being suitable for the position but in practice such a committee will rarely, in the vast majority of cases, do other than protect its own by appointing someone from within its exclusive circle or someone it feels would fit comfortably within that circle, who is most likely to be a public servant. It is in our view a major weakness of this Bill that although it implicitly concedes that outsiders may have something to offer the service it does not concede that they have anything to offer the selection process itself. Outsiders are given no role in the selection process despite the fact that outside specialists may well have something to offer in assessing the claims of persons outside the service.
It is not clear from the Bill whether nonestablished heads of departments can be members of the selection committee convened by the
Chairman of the Board although, as I read the Bill, it seems that they can be included. If so, this could in theory bring into the committee someone from outside the privileged group of established heads of departments, but in practice it is not likely to make much difference. The Chairman of the Public Service Board determines who is on the Committee and he is more than likely to ensure that the committee is comprised of members of the upper tier of permanent heads. Another matter for objection in this Bill is that the powers exercised by the Chairman of the Board are in our opinion excessive. He has powers quite independent of the Prime Minister, the Minister concerned, or the Cabinet as a whole and although the final selection rests with the Prime Minister the process of determining an established head of department is very much in the hands of the Chairman of the Board. He submits a personal report to the Prime Minister as to suitable candidates for appointment so that his personal preferences are made quite clear to the Prime Minister. Furthermore, he is also required to appoint a selection committee to report on suitable candidates and in appointing that committee he is required to consult with the Prime Minister only in regard to its composition. He determines its membership. As the Bill stands he therefore has determinative powers as to the composition of the committee and so can select those whose views most accord with his own and there is nothing that the Prime Minister or the Government can do about it. The Chairman can also appoint additional members to the committee at any time and in so doing he is again required only to consult with the Prime Minister.
This vesting of power in the Chairman of the Board is of real importance for it means that he effectively controls who is or who is not an established permanent head. That, of course, assumes real importance in relation to the security of tenure that applies to a permanent head. If a Prime Minister or his Minister wants someone to be appointed as a permanent head but the Chairman of the Board disapproves of that person he cannot stop the appointment of that person but he can stop his appointment as an established permanent head. The person who is appointed is therefore subject to the strict limitation that applies under clause 54, that is, appointment is only for a period not exceeding 5 years and he is subject to dismissal on a change of government. We consider that the vesting of such powers in the Chairman of the Board to be excessive and it is an important ground on which we oppose this Bill.
We also oppose another aspect of the appointment procedure, that is the provision that after the selection committee appointed by the Chairman has investigated and reported to the Prime Minister on suitable candidates and after the Chairman has made his own report to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister may then require that the position be advertised in the Australian Government Gazette and such other daily newspapers and publications as the Chairman thinks appropriate. After all the investigation and reporting has gone on- after the Chan-man has reported and the committee has reportedthen the position may be advertised. This surely is a curious procedure. It seems to be designed to ensure that outsiders get the least possible chance to be nominated as is the case with the rest of the procedure.
As I mentioned earlier, the Royal Commission recommended that the first step in the selection procedure should be to advertise the position wherever circumstances allow. The procedure for which this Bill provides is exactly the opposite. Advertising comes in only as a final phase in the procedure if the Prime Minister feels dissatisfied with those nominated to him by the selection committee and the Chairman of the Board. Such a procedure does not guarantee, as the Prime Minister claimed in his second reading speech, that the chance of making the best possible appointment is increased. How does the Prime Minister know whether the best possible person has been nominated when the position has not been advertised and possibly the best person has not been nominated or even considered?
Apart from our many objections to the procedures for appointment contained in this Bill we are also very concerned at the discriminatory treatment that applies to so-called nonestablished officers compared with established officers. We do not object to the lack of security of tenure for the non-established officers. Rather, we consider that, as the Royal Commission said, all permanent heads should be subject to review after 5 to 7 years. Instead, this Bill leaves them cosily ensconced in their privileged positions. Why should anyone who exercises the power that these people exercise be free from review? Members of Parliament are certainly subject to review. Ministers of departments certainly are. Why are not all departmental heads who exercise power to a degree little below that of Minister -perhaps in some cases rather more than that of Ministers- subject to review? In a democratic society no one should, in our view, be able to hold power indefinitely without being subject to automatic re-appraisal. Indeed, it is interesting to note that the royal commission found that departmental heads considered that 5 to 7 years was enough time in one department and that it was then time to move on. However, there is nothing in this Bill which provides a limitation of tenure for established permanent heads. That, in our view, is a major weakness of the Bill.
Finally, I wish to draw attention to the erosion of power of Ministers, particularly Cabinet Ministers, under the Bill. As I mentioned at the outset, the prevailing practice under the current Public Service Act has been for the Minister concerned and the Prime Minister to consult the Board and for their recommendation to be approved by Cabinet before being submitted to the Governor-General. Under the provisions of the Bill now before the House the specific power is given to the Prime Minister to make the appointment. The Minister concerned and Cabinet have no final say. Furthermore, the Minister concerned gets into the act only after the Chairman and his Committee have made their recommendations as to suitable candidates. The Minister concerned then can ask the Chairman and the Committee to consider whether a particular person or persons who are not listed in the report as suitable candidates should be so listed. He can also ask them to see whether there might not be other unspecified persons who could be listed. The Chairman and the Committee must then comply with the request and report accordingly. But that is the extent of the Minister’s involvement. He can suggest names if he does not like those which have been thrown up in the first place or ask that others be considered. Whether or not they are depends on the Chairman and on his Committee. The Cabinet has no say at all under these procedures. All final power resides in the Prime Minister. So Ministers individually and collectively, in the case of those who are Cabinet Ministers, lose the considerable powers they have in this area under current procedures.
We do not support this erosion of powers of Ministers and Cabinet to determine who becomes a permanent head. The procedures suggested by the royal commission would have safeguarded those powers. The Minister concerned, with the Prime Minister, would have a right to nominate members of the selection committee. He would have a right to suggest particular names for consideration by the panel before it made any recommendations. He, along with Cabinet, would approve the ultimate selection.
This Bill can be satisfactory only to a small group of Public Service mandarins who obtain great power to maintain their exclusive preserve for those of their own ilk. It is perhaps satisfactory also to a Prime Minister who wishes to see his Cabinet and ministerial colleagues stripped of power to determine their own chief executives. The Bill is certainly not in the best interests of the good administration of this country. We therefore strongly oppose it.
-The contribution made to this debate by members of the Opposition I think displayed very clearly to the House the depth of scepticism and suspicion which they have for the Public Service as a whole. I would like to preface my remarks by just trying to put this legislation in its true political and historical context. When the Labor Government came into power after 23 years in the political wilderness it believed quite definitely that the Public Service was against it; it had to be reformed at all costs. It was prepared to use the legislation as it then stood to achieve its objectives. Various speakers on the government side have already referred to a number of personnel who were appointed as First Division officers by the Labor Government of the day under circumstances which were regarded at the time as being antipathetic to the overall interests of the Public Service and certainly the political well-being of the nation. In fact, I think the point was rather clearly made by a journal called Victorian Viewpoint, which I understand to be the journal of the Victorian branch of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association. This is what it said about the political independence of the Public Service:
The great danger to the Australian Public Service and of course to the public servant himself or herself arising from these appointments -
That is, the appointments to which I have just referred- is the political independence of the Service which has always been held in the past to be beyond reproach. The question now being asked by sections of the Press and by the public is whether the political independence of the Public Service is being subordinated. The ultimate possibility arising from such appointments is that the public servant’s promotional opportunities or even his security of office in the future may depend on his political affiliations and whichever party is in power.
Of course, those remarks have to be seen in the context of the considerations of the average public servant with regard to his own permanent status in what he believes to be a career service. I personally have rather strong views about the excessive influence given to the concept of career appointments and permanent status in the Public Service. But the difficulty we are facing, especially at the top echelons, is quite simply that
First Division officers responsible for departments obviously have a fundamental bearing not only on the quality of advice given to Ministers but also on the methodological approach of the department and of the officers below the permanent head as to how the instructions of Ministers and the Government will be carried out. Within that context, therefore, the actions of the Labor Party during its 3 years in office are explainable, although one may not necessarily accept the thesis upon which they were based.
To say, however, that this legislation which we are debating today is somehow or other going to upset fundamentally a balance which obviously both sides of this House do not regard as being satisfactory is, quite frankly, overstating the case. I refer in particular to the Leader of the Opposition’s concept of 2 tiers of First Division officers. I think it should be the view of all honourable members of the House that it is not an unreasonable expectation for people, both men and women, who have given a lifetime of service to the Australian people and to the Public Service of the Commonwealth that the system be based on the principle that those officers who have worked their way through the second and third divisions of the Service over a period of years and so gained substantial knowledge should be given the opportunity of being selected as First Division officers. On the other hand, it is quite obvious that the government of the day must have a capability of bringing people into the Public Service on the basis of merit- I em- phasise that point- even if those who have merit happen also to have a point of view similar to that of the government of the day.
I submit that this legislation achieves both of those objectives. On the one hand, permanent officers of the Public Service will be eligible for these top positions and at the same time the Government, through the machinery established in this legislation, will be expecting the Committee made up of the Chairman of the Public Service Board plus at least 2 other permanent heads to take into account not only officers of the permanent Public Service but also other personnel in the private sector and elsewhere who may be nominated for positions in that context. The Bill also emphasises that if the results of that procedure are not considered to be satisfactory outside appointments may be made by the Prime Minister through the machinery which is also established in the legislation. In other words, we have a considerable degree of flexibility. That is something which the existing legislation quite obviously does not give us.
The provisions under the existing arrangements are twofold: Firstly, a Minister on assuming office is stuck with whoever he has as the head of his department and, secondly, he may, through the Executive Council and with the approval of the Governor-General, bring in other personnel. But the weakness in the present arrangement is that the concept of permanency, which was obviously defined initially to refer to public servants who worked their way up through the Service, is also then applied to personnel brought in from outside. They are brought in, as I have stated, essentially because the government of the day presumes that it cannot find personnel of that level who can adequately carry out its political dictates and wants to bring in outsiders. Having done that, however, it is illogical to suggest that those people should then be given the full rights and privileges of permanency as would be given to any other members of the Public Service if they have not had a similar background. That is one of the major factors in this legislation.
It has been stated, for example, in clause 25 that those who are removed after a period of 5 years, if they are not public servants, should be given a necessary honorarium and so forth, all of which- I emphasise this point- will be public knowledge because it will be gazetted for anybody to read. So there will be no deals under the table and so forth. The second category of people- those who are permanent public servants under the normal definition of the wordswill have the right of being able to return to a position equivalent to that which they held previously. The legislation takes into account the not infrequent possibility that an officer of the Second Division or an officer of the Third Division- in fact this was the situation with one of the Whitlam appointments initially- would be in a position where his career spectrum would be taken into account in relation to the position to which he would return following his removal from the First Division.
The Labor Government was aware, upon assuming office, that the Public Service Act made no provision whatsoever for the termination of the appointment of a permanent head on any grounds other than those narrowly defined such as inefficiency. As a result of this the Whitlam Government, for example, appointed no fewer than 3 ambassadors in Geneva representing Aus.tralian interests in Europe. They were all very fine gentlemen, but surely this was an expensive way to solve the problem. Other officers were sent on extended leave because there was simply no position to which the Government of the day wished to appoint them. This situation was created because the Act that time made no adequate provision for the termination of those First Division appointments.
Regrettably in a sense, but quite understandably, the amendments now proposed in this legislation will not cover existing appointments to the First Division of the Public Service; but at least these amendments go a substantial way towards ensuring that those situations will not be created in the future. After all, the government of the day does have a responsibility to ensure that officers who are earning salaries in excess of $40,000 a year are actively employed at all times while they are being paid from the public purse.
Within this context I should like to make reference also to section 25 placitum (2) of the Public Service Act. There is a growing tendency in the Public Service, especially at the First Division level, for officers to place too much emphasis on the policy aspects of their responsibilities and insufficient emphasis on the administrative and financial affairs of their departments. In the United Kingdom, for example, the equivalent to a First Division officer is, m every sense of the term, the ‘senior finance officer’ and he ultimately is responsible for everything that takes place within his department and is, of course, answerable for its activities to his Minister and to the Parliament. Under our legislation, however, First Division officers do have the delegation to pass most of their administrative powers on to more junior officers in the department who are held responsible for any misdemeanours that take place. I believe that this is a section of the Act which wil have to be amended. I am aware that the Auditor-General is currently examining this matter.
If the emphasis which the Opposition wishes to place upon this legislation is that we are attempting to politicise the Public Service, I refuse to accept that criticism on the ground that we are trying to prevent the recurrence of a situation which existed for a period of 3 years whereby appointments were made to the Public Service on fundamentally political grounds. Those appointments had a very serious effect upon the morale of public servants and thereby upon the capacity of the Public Service to serve the government of the day. There were too many examples of junior officers, in particular, realising that the way to success, even in the Public Service context, was by pleasing their political masters. I do not suggest for a minute that this trend will ever go away. It is a fact of life that some ambitious men and women will take a short cut wherever they can.
The fact remains that this legislation represents the first attempt that has been made to overcome what has become in recent years a very serious problem. When the Public Service Act was originally drawn up, in 1922, the concepts of the permanent status of public servants and an apolitical Public Service were very real. As pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) and agreed by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) and by myself, the fact of the matter is that public servants today are able to express their political views, as does every other citizen of the country. What is important is to ensure that their personal views are not allowed to be reflected in the quality of the advice which they give to Ministers or in the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities. I commend this legislation to the House.
-Firstly, I must assure the honourable member for Bradfield (Mi Connolly) that, contrary to his accusations concerning the attitude of the Opposition towards public servants, I have no innate hostility towards the Public Service as such. I can assure the honourable member that as a former short-term public servant I have a very high regard for the integrity and ability of public servants. I have defended their integrity, their ability and their working conditions on many occasions in this House. I share the concern of the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) that so few people are interested in this Bill, because it involves some very important principles; but I must say that I was concerned at his suggestion that perhaps we should consider not only bringing outsiders into the Public Service as permanent heads of departments but also bringing them in as Ministers. We all should be very much aware that it was precisely because such a situation existed in the American political system that Watergate was allowed to develop. It shook the whole foundation of the American nation. People who were not responsible, were not elected and were not subject to recall by the people were given power and they abused that power tremendously. The Watergate scandal shook the whole nation and it is still recovering from it. So I do not think that anybody should seriously consider the proposition that people who are not elected and who are not subject to recall should be given great powers in government.
I oppose this Bill very strongly. My basic objection to it is not just at the political level and does not concern just the privileges or rights of public servants. It is that this Bill strikes at a basic democratic aspect of our government and our Parliament in the handing over of power from the Parliament to public servants- at the handing over of power from elected people, people who are subject to recall, to people who are appointed. I know that elected people- Ministers in governments- cannot take responsibility for every decision that is made right down the line. Responsibility has to be delegated to public servants. This is a long established principle. But that does not mean that we should give responsibility to public servants virtually to appoint permanent heads of departments. I believe that that is what this BUI does. It seriously erodes the power and responsiblity of the Parliament, the Executive and the Government to appoint permanent heads by putting tremendous power in the hands of the Chairman of the Public Service Board. I think this is the basic principle about which we should be concerned.
We have to understand that the Bill has been prepared by public servants and it is natural that they will look after their own interests when drafting Bills. I do not doubt that that is a responsible attitude for them to take. But, while protecting their own interests, I do not think that there was any need for public servants to be given the power virtually to control the appointment of permanent heads. Their security of tenure can be protected- I think it is reasonably well protected- without giving them that extra power. I think they have enough control over the system now- too much in some ways. This power would really add to their control of the system and would allow them to manipulate it. They could do that in the following ways: Firstly, as I said, they could do it by means of the tremendous powers that would be vested in the Chairman of the Public Service Board. He would select the committee that would recommend permanent head appointments. Membership of that committee would be confined to permanent heads of departments. So a committee of permanent heads would recommend who should fill permanent head positions. The Chairman of the Public Service Board would control the short list of established candidates.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) confirmed in his second reading speech that a Prime Minister could suggest that other people be placed on the list, but he conceded that the Chairman of the Public Service Board would have the discretion to refuse to put those people on the list. He would have the right to veto the inclusion in that list of the nominations of the Prime Minister or the Government. I do not think that this is advisable. I think that it would create a very dangerous precedent. The Chairman of the Public Service Board would have great power over the established permanent heads and, as I said, he would virtually have power to veto the Prime Minister’s proposals. I have no objection to permanent heads feeling secure in office. I think that it is a fundamental principle in the Public Service that they should feel secure in office. This can be done. This is a matter altogether different from that which gives the committee control over the appointment of permanent heads.
I believe that under the guise of opening up the possibilities of people from outside the Public Service being appointed as permanent heads, this Bill in fact makes it very unlikely that any outstanding candidates from outside the Public Service will in fact even consider being attracted into the Service. The Prime Minister went on to say in his second reading speech that, notwithstanding the list that the committee prepares, a Prime Minister can appoint somebody over the head of the Public Service Board. The catch is, of course, that the conditions applying to such an appointment are so bad that no serious candidate would really have a second look. He would have no security of tenure at all. On the change of government he could be sacked. At the most he would have a 5-year term. I do not think this proposal is a reality. In fact the power still lies with the Chairman of the Public Service Board and the control he has over that committee. Not only does he have a substantive vote on the committee but also he has a casting vote which really strengthens his power.
The way the candidates are to be drawn under this Bill is quite confusing. They can come from 3 sources. Firstly, they can come from the initial list of candidates prepared by the Chairman and his committee. If that is not satisfactory the position can be advertised and other names added to the list. Of course the Prime Minister can add further names to the list subject to the discretion of the Chairman. This is a quite ridiculous situation. I think a much cleaner approach to this question would have been achieved if the recommendation of the Coombs report had been followed. The Coombs report put up the proposition that there should be just the one list and that that list should include any nominees of the Government, the relevant Minister or the Prime Minister. This would have been a much cleaner approach and it would have put everybody on a much better basis. With the present suggestion an outsider has very little chance and very little going for him. The terms and conditions are just not attractive. The Coombs report said that there should be only one list.
Dr Coombs also made the important suggestion, which is at variance with this Bill, that the committee should be appointed by the Government and not by the Chairman of the Public Service Board. This would give a much better balance to the committee and would reflect the views of the Government to some extent. The suggestion was made that permanent heads should be statutory officers who would serve a fixed contract for a government and that when that contract comes to an end at the change of government, if the new government does not wish to renew the contracts, the officers would return to a pool and be guaranteed other positions. This would be a much cleaner approach and people would know where they stood. At the same time it would allow for outsiders to come in on a reasonable basis and not be at a disadvantage as they are under the provisions of this Bill. There is a guise of opening up positions to outsiders but in fact the practicalities are that the positions will be most unattractive to outsiders. This merely reinforces the mortgage that established permanent heads have on positions of permanent heads. I would be very surprised if outsiders came in in the same way as they did in the period of the Labor Government. I do not want to enter into debate whether that was good or bad, but I do not think it would happen under this new arrangement.
I think the Coombs arrangements would have been much more desirable and much more democratic. They tended to keep the power in the hands of the Parliament- in the hands of the Government and in the hands of the elected people. The power was divided between the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Minister concerned. I think the Minister concerned in a particular department should play the principal role. I think this was accepted in our government. This Bill tends to take the power out of the hands of the elected Parliament and put it in the hands of public servants. The way the committee is constructed puts power in the hands of virtually a one-man band. The unknown quantity about this proposition is the effect that the other Bill proposed by the Government, the Commonwealth Employees (Redeployment and Retirement) Bill, will have on the Public Service. Here of course a grave threat is hanging over the heads of public servants because of the rather insidious proposal for management initiated retirement.
While this Bill may protect the conditions and secure the tenure of permanent heads- there is a very small number of permanent heads in the bureaucracy- there are thousands of middle range officers who will be under threat if this other Bill is passed. I suggest that members of the House should look at this very closely. The concessions many senior public servants will be granted under this Bill could well be offset by disadvantages in the Bill concerning redeployment and retirment. I suggest that the overriding objection to this Bill is that it represents a further erosion of the control of the bureaucracy by the Parliament. I think this is a most important and fundamental aspect of the Bill. The provisions of the Bill take away some of the responsibility of elected people and give it to appointed people who are not responsible in the sense that they are not subject to recall. I think it is very important that these sorts of powers should remain very much in the hands of a government. This situation, of course, would present no problem where the basic philosophy of a government happens to coincide with the basic philosophies of senior public servants. If they are in agreement there will be no problem. But of course great problems could occur where there are different philosophies and where a reformist government has to deal possibly with conservative public servants. I recognise the other situation where sometimes very progressive permanent heads would have the problem of dealing with a very conservative government. It cuts both ways. I acknowledge this. I repeat that I think all members of this House should be very much aware that this Bill in fact represents an erosion of the power of the elected people, hands much more power than is necessary over to appointed permanent heads and gives them the opportunity of reinforcing their entrenched position within the bureaucracy. When one looks at the Bill carefully one sees that it merely strengthens their position and erodes the power of this Parliament.
-The BUI before the House is important because it deals with political appointments to positions of permanent cad in departments by the government of the day. Under the permanency provisions of the Australian Public Service, which is of course a career Service, there has not been a distinction between appointments from within the career structure and those from outside. This lack of distinction has allowed governments to appoint permanent heads who would not have been regarded as established candidates for these positions. Ensuing governments have had little choice but to move such appointees sideways at the salary level appropriate to a permanent head and put them on the unattached list if the appointee was not acceptable to the incoming government.
The practice of appointment to the position of permanent head of non-established candidates became particularly conspicuous under the previous Labor administration. It appeared that the best qualifications and experience for an aspiring permanent head was to have served a time as private secretary to the now Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). This Bill seeks to rectify this situation under which such appointments are made on a permanent basis. The Government acknowledges that there may be occasions when it is appropriate to appoint a permanent head who is not an established candidate for the position. This legislation does not seek to restrict a government’s following that course. What it does seek to do is to remove the permanency of such appointment.
This Bill provides for the appointment of permanent heads, other than established candidates, for a 5-year term. The term may be extended as appropriate or it may be terminated on a change of government after payment of compensation. The Bill provides for a procedure which must be followed in the case of the appointment of a non-established candidate. Amongst other things, the Governor-General must be informed by the Prime Minister whether the proposed appointee to a vacancy is an established candidate. There Will be no doubt about who are and who are not political appointments. Flexibility will be available to a government to appoint outsiders to the position of permanent head if it feels that the appointee has special qualifications or talents that he can bring to the position. No government will be denied the opportunity to call on special expertise if it considers this to be appropriate. No government will be fettered in its desire to go outside the traditional Public Service career structure if it believes that the talent or expertise is not available from within that established structure. All future governments will know that appointments of this nature will not necessarily continue beyond that government’s period in office. This I believe to be a significant step. It is regrettable that the actions of the previous Government made legislation of this nature necessary. It is nonetheless appropriate that the ground rules for these appointments be added to the statutes so that from this time on governments will act in the full knowledge of the nature and the extent of their actions.
The honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) indicated that under this legislation it would not be attractive for outsiders to come into the Public Service at permanent head level. He indicated that permanent heads would be entrenched in the system. I do not think that is really the point. I think it is more appropriate to say that the question is really one of acceptability. If any government wishes to bring in somebody from outside, such a person can be appointed as permanent head. It is acknowledged that he is not an established candidate for the position. It is up to the incoming government, if there should be a change of government, to determine whether that person has the talent or the expertise or is of value in that position to the new government. I do not think the legislation makes the position any less attractive to people on the outside, nor do I think that it makes the existing Public Service senior strata any more entrenched than it would have been if this legislation had not been introduced. The fact is that people who are offered positions as permanent head under any government from now on will have to consider and assess their situation in the light of this legislation. They will have to consider whether they are likely to be acceptable to another government. They will have to consider whether they can be regarded as a blatant political appointment. In these circumstances it is a question of the responsibility of the person who is being offered a position as to whether he wants to accept what is a political appointment and what will be interpreted as a political appointment for the life of that government. I do not see anything wrong with that. I think that if the previous Prime Minister had wanted to appoint more of his private secretaries as permanent heads of different departments he should have been entitled to do so. I think it is unreasonable to expect an incoming government, which might find any or all of those appointments distasteful to it, to be saddled with the responsibility of having to use public funds to keep these people on the unattached list, to keep them in a position of permanency, which is the existing situation.
I think this legislation shows quite a degree of feeling and understanding by this Government. It has not acted to undo the appointments of the previous Administration. It has taken account of the fact that if a permanent head ‘s appointment should be terminated before his time has expired, a change of government having intervened, appropriate compensation should be paid to him for the cutting short of his term of office. I believe that this Government is setting the record straight for this Administration and for future administrations. If a future administration wishes to amend this legislation it will do so in full view of the public eye. It will do so in the full knowledge that people in the electorate are aware that it is opening the way again for political appointments. I do not believe that any government would blatantly want to open the way for political appointments. The people concerned, the aspirants to positions under any administration, must realise that they are operating under a quasi-American situation in which their appointment lasts for as long as their government lasts.
I think it is also appropriate that the legislation recognises that there are occasions when special expertise is required. It may be that an occasion would arise when a person who is appointed to a position of the nature referred to in the Bill may not have his term extended, even by the government which appointed him, because if the life of the government extends beyond the 5-year period of his appointment and his appointment is up for renewal, it may not be renewed. It is quite conceivable that governments may seek to bring in people at a permanent head level to establish a department, to bring in some new expertise that may not be available within the Service or to perform some task for the government at permanent head level. Having accomplished that task over a 5-year period, it may not be appropriate to re-appoint him. Governments which made these appointments may not wish to continue them.
I believe that by this legislation the Government has made a great step forward. We have created a situation in which political appointments to the position of permanent head of a department are recognised as such. We have created a situation in which the people who are offered and who accept these positions must accept them as political appointments. If these people are interested in a career structure, they must consider whether the position which they are being offered is of a sheer political nature or whether their special talent and expertise are being recognised and they are being called upon by a government to perform a duty in the administration of government in this country. I believe that there would be many occasions which we could recall on which people could be brought in from outside the established structure to perform specific services or to bring in special talents who would be acceptable to incoming governments. I believe that this is a great step forward and something which ought to be recognised. The National Country Party is enthusiastic about this legislation. On its behalf, I add my full support to the actions which the Government is taking. I wish the legislation a speedy passage through all its stages.
– I do not support the legislation, but I welcome its introduction to the House because it has opened up debate on this very vexed question. I did not count accurately the number of times that the honourable member for Hume (Mr Lusher) used the term …..’……. appointments’ this afternoon, but I think he did so on 30 different occasions. It seems to me that small thinking people such as the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who grab hold of political cliches such as that and bounce them around the country, to short term political advantage, eventually find themselves painted into a corner. The introduction of the Bill is an admission by the Government that no longer will Australia see long term governments such as it saw with the Menzies Government and other Liberal-Country Party governments, which were in power for 23 years. I do not Uke using the term ‘permanent heads’. I know of only 2 things in this world that are permanent, and they are death and taxes. I do not think one can adequately apply the terminology permanent’ to a head of a department. I think they are heads of departments, and that phrase adequately describes them. This Bill is an acknowledgment by the present Government that there will be changes in government and that future governments will not have the advantage that Mr Menzies, as he then was, had of a continuing bureaucracy- a whole generation of it that did not need any tickling up.
The people in the top level-the First Division- are the POliCY people in the Public Service. Underneath them are the administrators, managers and so on. The top level contains the pOliCy people. They are there to bring forward suggestions for POliCY to the Government. It would seems to me that in the situation we have at the moment the crazy chaotic situation could occur in which someone who was diametrically opposed- I think that the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) used the term ‘political neuters’, but of course they are not- to the political philosophy of the government of the day could, if he or she so chose, be obstructive. I think it is desirable that government should have flexibility in this area.
I just want to clear up a point that I made about my opposition to the use of the word ‘permanent’. It seems that this word pervades all of the Public Service. One keeps running into the words ‘permanent’ and ‘permanency’. These words seem to pop up all the time. On reflection, it would seem that these words were used initially by the government of the day to attract people into the Public Service. Salaries paid to people working in the Public Service at the time were notoriously low and to attract people into the Public Service the government of the day gave something which did not cost it very much. People who worked on the railways and in all sorts of government jobs were given permanency. I remember that during the Depression years anyone whose father had a job in the Public Service counted himself well off because there was the guarantee of at least some work. But that situation has changed. I think that the salaries that are now paid to public servants are comparable to salaries paid in the community generally. Although I am not sure, in some instances possibly salaries received by members of the Public Service are in excess of salaries received in industry. But I believe that the protection and the benefits that were always given to people who joined the Public Service, the inducement of permanency that was held out to them, do not seem to be as relevant in the 1970s as in the early years of this century. So I would not Uke to see that expression used again.
Reading the provisions contained in the BUI it seems to me that on the one hand the Government wants to do something but on the other hand it is perhaps a little afraid of the bureaucracy and so it is not prepared to go all the way. As a result there has been a marriage of convenience. However, I am afraid that the child is mutated. This whole measure is incestuous in terms of its concept and operation. The Chairman of the Public Service Board is to have the ultimate authority. He has only to consult with the Prime Minister. I suppose that means that he need only ring him up and say: ‘How are you going? What do you think about this?’ The Prime Minister might say: ‘Oh, I would not Uke that’. So the Chairman could hang the phone up and go ahead and do it anyhow. That is aU that consultation amounts to. There is no direction by the Prime Minister. The Chairman of the Public Service Board has only to consult. The effect of the legislation would be to turn over to the chief mandarin all of the functions which would allow him to build his own dynasty around him. He will certainly do that, and that comment is no reflection on the man who now holds the position. I am just simply saying that he is a man, and because of that aU of the temptations contained in the Bill Will be open to him. I do not think that that ought to be the case. I would prefer to see a stronger control exercised by the government and the executive of the day.
Mention has been made of political appointments. Of course there are political appointments. I am not ashamed of that. I think that the appointments that were made by Labor when it was in office were probably the best appointments that were ever made to this level of the Public Service. Nobody can say otherwise. Nobody has ever said a word against the people who were appointed. The present Government shovelled off Labor Party appointees because they confessed that they had a different political philosophy. These people accepted the decision of the Government. I do not think they were terribly disappointed with the treatment they received. We are not dealing with shrinking violets. We are not dealing with anything that is tender and cuddly and has to be protected. We are dealing with people who are worldly wise; people who are as well aware as I am of what is going on around them. As I said, the only 2 things that are certain in this world are death and taxes. These people are well aware of that. The Government does not need to write all of this nonsense into the Bill to try to protect them from this, that and the other.
Why must the Public Service, which I have heard described as a career structure, stand distinct from the rest of our community in respect of salaries and career prospects? What does it do that is different from the things done by the rest of our community? What does it do that commerce and trade do not do every day of the week? Therefore one should be looking at careers in the whole broad spectrum of the Australian community and not in one localised section of it. I do not want to go on and on about this matter, although I probably could. My principal objection is the incestuous nature of the Bill where the Public Service is allowed to self perpetuate itself. I think that the executive and the government of the day should have more say in this respect.
I tried very hard to read the Bill. I got through most of it. However, proposed new section 54 (9) states:
The Governor-General may, before the expiration of the period for which the person is appointed to hold office, terminate the appointment of the person on the recommendation of the Prime Minister if the Prime Minister who makes the recommendation is not a member of-
the political party of which the Prime Minister on whose recommendation the person was appointed was a member at the time when the person was appointed;
I thought that was pretty good. I thought about what could happen under this proposed new section. For example, a Liberal Prime Minister of a coalition could meet with an unfortunate accident and be replaced by a National Country Party Prime Minister until the Liberals could elect a new Leader. But such a person would not come from the same political party as the Prime Minister who was replaced. Therefore the National Country Party Prime Minister could get rid of the people appointed by the Liberal Prime Minister and appoint others. But when the Liberals then elected a Liberal Prime Minister, that person would not be of the same political party as the National Country Party Prime Minister. Therefore the Liberal Prime Minister could get rid of the people appointed by the Country Party Prime Minister and could appoint other people. I thought that this was a really good example and I could see how some really funny situations could arise. I can understand that such a farcical situation could arise. But that is not the worst of it. Cop a load of this. Paragraph (b) of the proposed sub-section states: a political party of which any other person who held office as a Minister at that time was then a member.
Perhaps the Minister in charge of the Bill will be kind enough to inform me when he is summing up just exactly what that paragraph means because I am completely confounded. I have spoken to people who have a much wider knowledge of the English language than I and they confess to being even more confused. It is just gobbledegook. Why does not the Bill propose that if, for example, the Labor Party appoints people the Liberal Party on coming to power will have the option of getting rid of them? I cannot blame the draftsman for what is in the Bill because he had some kind words said about him today. But the sort of gobbledegook that is in the Bill does not help anybody at all. It does not mean anything. It is a great heap of nonsense. The Bill would be stronger if it was not there or if the provision was put in English that I could understand, and that is pretty plain and basic English.
– Four letter words.
-Not necessarily in 4-letter words. Some of the words that I know that are unacceptable contain 7 letters. I have drawn the attention of honourable members to the main points that I wanted to raise. I do not support the Bill. The Bill has been introduced by people looking for short term political gain. These people have thought up cliches that are easy to say in public, are easily remembered by people and are built up into mountains when in fact they are molehills. The language used in the Bill is unnecessary. If straight out language was used I would have absolutely no opposition to the Bill. In fact I would support the right of a Government to choose the people who are to move into the area of recommending policy to it.
Talk about the career structure. I think that every private soldier has been told that there is a field marshal’s baton in his knapsack. I think that we have had only one field marshal in this country. Everybody knows that such an objective should not to be taken seriously. In 1969 the fine intelligent electors of Burke and people in the Labor Party- said to me: ‘We will send you off to Canberra, my boy, and it will not be very long before we see you as Prime Minister of this country.’ I think that they were just trying to get me out of the federal division of Burke and up here out of the way. But that is the sort of thing that is said. Everyone knows in his own heart that very few people ever gravitate to the top echelon jobs and that these people do not necessarily have to come from within the Service.
– I rise briefly to oppose as strongly as I can this shabby piece of legislation. I think that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) put this legislation into context when he spoke of the cant with which Liberal Party and National Country Party members of this House talk about such subjects. Let us get this matter perfectly straight. All senior public servants are, of course, politicians, though perhaps not of any constant partisan attachment. In saying that, I am not making a reflection, particularly in respect of their honesty. But all of them would regard themselves in one way or another as politicians.
The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) put forward what I thought was a most useful textual analysis of this particular legislation, a piece of legislation which apparently is incapable of being understood by the honourable members for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) and Hume. Two things need to be said to these honourable members plainly. Non-career appointees can be established candidates and career appointees may not necessarily be established candidates. So it does not follow that someone from without the Public Service will be appointed subject to the limitations of proposed new sections 54 (9) to 54 (15). They do not understand what they are talking about.
Pardon my remarking on the irony of joining in this debate with my good friend, the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry). He represents in this House a great many public servantspeople whom persons on the other side of this chamber always choose to picture, when they go home to their electorates, as layabouts. I find it passing odd that in a piece of legislation such as this, when it comes to dealing with the mandarins of the Public Service, we see the forelock tugging and deference which come so easily to the conservatives in this Parliament. The public servants whom the honourable member for Fraser represents are in the main men and women who do the more basic chores in the PubUc Service or who do the middling chores the chores which are very well paid, sometimes at between $10,000 and $20,000 a year-but they do work that brings them into touch with the reality, the statistics at least, of some of the people facing the desperate situation in Australia which is never seen by the constituents of people in this chamber who come from the wealthiest residential districts in our metropolitan areas.
This Bill provides statutory procedures for nominating persons suitable for appointment to fill a vacancy in an office of permanent head. Let us look at those procedures. They are very unsatisfactory. A person so nominated is described as an established candidate. The nomination procedures, which amount to little more than the identification and labelling of so-called established candidates, are, as I said, very unsatisfactory. The list of suitable names is prepared by the Chairman of the Public Service Board and by a committee of permanent heads appointed by the Chairman after ‘consultation’ with the Prime Minister. After receiving the reports, not before receiving the reports, of the Chairman and of the committee, the Prime Minister may require the office to be advertised. How will the Chairman and his pals, the permanent heads whom he appoints to this cosy committee, know who are the suitable candidates who exist not simply in the Public Service but also outside the Public Service for appointment to these very important jobs as heads of departments? The Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration recommended that a vacancy should be advertised before a short list is prepared. So, that recommendation has been ignored.
In addition, after the Chairman and the committee have delivered their initial reports, the Prime Minister may request them to consider the name of ‘a particular person’. One does not have to be a genius to guess that it will be much more acceptable if the nomination is a safe, uninspired, uncontroversial choice put forward by a conservative Prime Minister than if the nomination is made by a Labor Prime Minister. That does not reflect on the honesty of a Chairman of the Public Service Board; it simply reflects the fact of his background, his contacts and the magic circle from which these established candidates are supposed to spring.
The nomination procedures give far too much authority to the Chairman of the Public Service Board and to the mandarins in the Public Service to perpetuate their own caste. We can understand why Government Ministers will feel comfy and cosy with men, many of whom went to the same schools as they attended, many of whom own rural areas just outside Canberra that have been acquired for their recreation or acquired by marriage. It is no accident that many of the rural areas adjacent to Canberra are called Little Venice. It is not simply the professional men resident in Canberra who give them that reputation; it is also the highly paid public servants who have invested in the areas and who have the same kind of social background as persons who participate in conservative ministries.
It appears that there is a new code word in what was, for the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), a remarkably temperate speech. My honourable friend, the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson), referred to the unfortunate fact that this legislation was a consequence of the sloganeering indulged in by honourable members opposite during the last election campaign. One of their great slogans was ‘no more jobs for the boys’. But, when it comes to reading what the Prime Minister had to say in his second reading speech in this debate, one finds that he never used the phrase. His new speech writers have cleaned it up and, in as unemotive language as we are ever likely to hear from the Prime Minister, we hear this new expression ‘due process’, the meaning of which is revealed to no one other than the Prime Minister. It is like the other magic code words ‘appropriate’ and ‘proper’. There are no such things. They reflect, in any event, purely subjective judgments of what ought to be an appropriate procedure. Due process’ means nothing. If one looks at these procedures one will see how unsatisfactory they are. What are the consequences of these procedures? The limitation on tenure of 5 years in the case of persons who are not established candidates is not something that I find unobjectionable. My personal objection is that I would apply the same limitations on tenure to all permanent heads. As the honourable member for Gellibrand said, that would be roughly in accord with another recommendation of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration.
The most important misrepresentation which Government members have made in this debate concerns the other disability which applies to a non-established candidate appointed as a permanent head, and that is that his appointment may be terminated on a change of government. If I can save the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters (Mr Street) using up time wastefully in giving an explanation, I will concede that paragraph (b) of proposed sub-section 54 (9) contemplates the situation to which my honourable friend, the honourable member for Burke, addressed himself. In fact, I think paragraph (b) refers to the situation where a Country Party person becomes Prime Minister. I do not want the Minister to waste any time on that; I want him to deal with our substantive objections.
It occurs to me that it is passing odd, as the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) would say, that we refer in this legislation to political parties. It wil be remembered that in electoral legislation political parties’ is one of those subjects which defy definition. It is much too difficult. We cannot name the political parties on ballot-papers. It may lead to people voting for the candidate whom they really want. ‘Political parties’ is nowhere defined in this legislation and nowhere defined in any Federal legislation. The meaning wil simply have to be discovered by the courts. I suppose that for present purposes it is clear enough that all members of the present ministry are members of the Liberal Party of Australia or the National Country Party of Australia. but it occurs to me that at some time we may have a Prime Minister of a conservative government who comes from, say, what is presently called the Country Party in Western Australia, from which Party there are no Ministers in this Ministry. In those circumstances, and given the tendency for the Country Party to change its name every other week- we do not know what it may be called in the future- we could be faced with exactly the situation to which my honourable and learned friend, the honourable member for Burke, with all of his forensic abilities, addressed himself.
There is another major misrepresentation with which I want the Minister to deal in his reply, and that is the suggestion that persons who are not established candidates and who are appointed as permanent heads will be subject to having their appointments terminated on a change of government. In faa, the legislation does not lead to that result. What happens is that the option to terminate the appointments of permanent heads who were not established candidates need not be exercised at the time of a change of government or within a reasonable time thereafter but merely before the expiration of the period of the appointment, which could be 4Vi years after a change of government. The situation surrounding some of the appointments which have so agitated honourable members opposite is the kind of situation that would arise here. That clearly cannot be what they are talking about when they talk about a change of government leading to the termination of these appointments. My own view, of course, is that every incoming government ought to have the right to terminate the appointment of any permanent head, whether he has been stigmatised as an established candidate or not. The effective thing that occurs to me, however, is not simply die political complexion of the government which appoints a permanent head but the performance in office of a permanent head both during the period of the government that appointed him and, after a change of government, under the new government. It seems to me that that will be a much more relevant consideration than the fact of who appointed that person as permanent head.
This measure has been thoroughly misrepresented by all Government speakers in this debate. They simply do not understand it. The appointment procedures give much too much power to the political mandarins. That does not reflect on their honesty. The consequences of a person being stigmatised in this game of statutory name calling as either established candidates or non-established candidates are also far too draconian. As to the questions of the reasonableness of permanent heads having their tenure limited or incoming governments being able to change permanent heads, I believe that both those options ought to be available to any incoming government. This is a thoroughly shabby piece of legislation, quite fitting of this Government but undeserving of the support of the House.
-Any parliament worth its salt would reject this legislation out of hand. I think it goes to the heart of what government is all about. In this instance we have a situation in which the Public Service Board Chairman and to a certain extent the other members of that Board are being elevated and exalted in authority and status, and in which the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) himself is being given extra powers in the appointment of people at the top of the Service. We have as part of this triumvirate the term ‘permanent head’ itself. So, we are creating a Frankenstein which will be beyond the control of this Parliament. I believe the great challenge of parliamentary democracy is the creation of a situation in which there is more parliament in government and not less. The system as I see it is this: The people of this country elect a parliament to govern it. The Parliament itself chooses from amongst its members a number of people as its executive officers and their charter runs because they are members of this Parliament. I disagree as absolutely as I can with the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) who thought that we ought to produce somebody from outside the Parliament to take the role of Ministers. I suppose that he is disheartened after looking at the people he sits behind in this place but I would not even agree to replacing them with people from outside Parliament.
The facts are that the Parliament is the executive instrument of the Australian people, that the Ministers are the Parliament’s chosen officers, and that the departments, permanent heads and the whole instrument of administration are the arms of the Parliament. Traditionally of course, for aU sorts of reasons- many of which I think are irrelevant now- we have attempted to create greater areas of independence in the Public Service, in its appointments and in its administration, because in the past we had the kind of politics where interference created what we might call ‘corruption’. I believe we now live in a different political and governmental environment and that in fact the Parliament itself, a Minister himself and whatever relationships a Minister has with the Parliament have to be related more closely to the day-to-day operations of government. The Ministers are the answering authorities. Everybody else, once they are appointed, can soldier on in an anonymous way. They can do all sorts of things. They can make all sorts of decisions and go home safely at night knowing that most people will not know who made those decisions. This Bill is a challenge to the parliamentary system. I believe that this legislation is reducing the status and effectiveness of this Parliament. I believe that every member of this Parliament who gives any consideration to my remarks will support honourable members on this side of the House.
What is the role of a permanent head? I raise this question in the Parliament itself. Why is the Parliament so obsessed with the authoritarianism that is implicit in this legislation? What is the function of this person who in the legislation has the particular style and title of permanent head? I concur with the remarks of my friend the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson). I do not think it is an appropriate title. I do not think that these people ought to be permanent in the sense contained in this legislation. The duty of a permanent head is to administer a department of State in accordance with the directions, wishes and policies of the Minister who is expressing his government ‘s and, in effect, ultimately, the Parliament’s wishes and aspirations. But what the Public Service Act has done in the past and still does and what this legislation is doing and amplifying is to give a permanent head a greater area of independence. His appointment will not flow necessarily and directly from the people for whom he works. His powers remain untrammelled. I suggest that honourable members should consider the functions and role of a permanent head as defined in the Public Service Act and as they are applied in this country and give some thought to making substantial changes.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-The Opposition is opposing the Bill before the House relating to appointments to the First Division of the Australian Public Service. We regard it as a shabby exercise in augmenting the authoritarian system and as an exercise in elitism. The thing that puzzles me about debates of this nature, and particularly the arguments that emanate from the other side of the House, is the obsession with ‘single authorities’ such as permanent heads, prime ministers and public service boards. It is as if governments seek to create some consortium of mandarins from which it is going to draw aU the talent with which finally to administer the country. We are opposed to that exercise. The Labor Party believes in more open government. It believes in a greater exercise of parliamentary authority in government, not less. We do not believe that it is necessary to have a close consortium or in this case a triumvirate of elitist people who are going to decide major issues.
This Bill creates a special triumvirate, if I may call it that. The Chairman of the Public Service Board will have a very special authority- an authority that in some respects could even transcend the authority of the Prime Minister and everybody else. At least he sits in a position of initiative-something which is denied to other people. The permanent head who is finally appointed will in certain circumstances have privileges which will be denied to others. Something I think this Parliament ought to be well aware of and of which it ought to take heed and which it ought to reject is the augmentation of the authority of the Prime Minister. This Parliament is a concert of equals. Under our system a number of people are chosen by various means to become our executive instruments and to control the departments of state. The term ‘Prime Minister’ is not mentioned in the Constitution. The Prime Minister is the chairman of the board, one might say. However, and unhappily- I think unhappily for good democratic government- we have allowed the position to become a total authority, particularly on the other side. This Bill ought to be rejected by any parliament that is concerned at all about its own authority.
How should we select permanent heads? What ought their functions be? What ought their relations be with the Ministers? What ought the Ministers ‘ relations be with the departments? This Bill deals with the method of selection of permanent heads. It is always difficult to decide now to select people for major or minor posts. I speak from my own experience. I was responsible for the appointment of one permanent head. It was my personal choice and decision, supported by the Cabinet. I was responsible for taking part in other appointments. For instance, I have been on the council of the National Library for a number of years dealing with the appointment of Directors-General as they are now called
I am convinced that in a society such as ours in respect of a position such as that of permanent head it is necessary to advertise. We may not achieve the result that we expect but the position has to be opened up so that all the talent that is available and would Uke to be available has the opportunity to say so. I will quote a couple of instances. I advertised for staff for myself as Minister. In the normal course of events a Minister is inclined to look amongst his circle of people whom he knows or who have been recommended to him but when I advertised there were suddenly dozens of people available. In fact, in that instance about 180 people whose talents I was unaware of were offering themselves. Two of the people who joined my staff would not have been invited if we had not advertised because they were unknown to us.
– All those people wanted to work for you?
-If that question were helpful I would like to answer it. What was it?
– All those people actually wanted to work for you?
-That is right. It may well have been that they felt I needed further guidance. It may well have been that they felt that those things which I was doing were things in which they would like to participate, but they were people of great talent. The same thing happened when we advertised years ago for a director of the National Library and also when we advertised for an administrator of Norfolk Island. People whom one would not have dreamed would be interested but who had the talent to do the job and the competence to do so, offered themselves.
Then there is the question of selection. I do not think we ought to allow this to fall into the hands of the people who are nominated in this Bill. The principal architects of government are the parliamentary representatives in the executive, and that is the Ministers; it is all the Ministers. It is not a job just for the Prime Minister. If these appointments are not made with the approval of the Parliament in accordance with the advice and consent clause which does not appear in this legislation then the final appointment must be by the Cabinet itself. I have held the view for a long while that we should at least have terminal appointments. I am not sure whether they should be for 5 years or for 7 years. That is a matter for decision. At the end of that period the person may be available for reappointment but I think the general theme would be that the person would pass to another post of equivalent status. It may well be that the system ought to allow for less differential between the people inside the Service.
In this debate, which I suppose is the first one we have had for a long while about the principles, we are restricted by time but I hope that in the near future the Parliament will get around to an examination of its functions and a reexamination of the whole of the Public Service Act and the implications of the powers of the permanent head. As I understand it the permanent head in the Commonwealth Public Service is a much more powerful functionary than he is in most of the State services. I do not think it should be that way. The Minister is almost helpless in some areas such as in the creation of the actual style of the department and he is isolated in other matters.
There is just one other point I will make before I sit down. I have no sympathy whatsoever with this argument of politicising or not politicising the Public Service. In a democratic country such as ours where voting is compulsory everybody is political. You are no better a person because your politics are secret. I have never found it difficult to work in the areas in which one works in this place with people who have had totally different Politic-al philosophies from mine. I recognise that if a person has a totally different social philosophy it would be difficult for him to implement some of the policies that I espouse.
The same applies to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) who is sitting at the table. It would be difficult for people who share my political and social philosophies to carry out some of the michievous policies he would like to have implemented. That is one of the difficulties. Therefore I believe there ought to be greater flexibility in the making of these appointments, greater opportunity for people to be transferred from the position and at the same time affording them pretty fair protection in the job. I think this legislation goes right to the heart of parliamentary government and the Parliament as an executive instrument of the Australian people. I think this legislation is totally wrong in its concept. It is a flurry of politics introduced in an attempt to cash in on appointments a Labor government made which were first class appointments of first class people. I believe that the Prime Minister has led himself into a corner which will do us all a great deal of harm in the further administration of this country.
– in reply- In concluding the second reading debate on what is generally agreed to be a most important Bill so far as the administration of government in this country is concerned I would like to make some references initially to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) who led for the other side of the House in this debate. He alleged that the legislation which we are now considering would make the bureaucracy more inward looking than it is now and that in fact it would make the positions of permanent heads virtually a closed shop. I would like to make it quite clear that there is absolutely no discrimination at all against the appointment to positions of permanent head of what might be normally termed outsiders in the sense that they are not members of the Public Service. Proper provisions have been made under this legislation to deal with outside appointments- the positions of appointees that will come up for review upon a change of government. The legislation will, in fact, encourage the appointment of persons from outside the Service but- this is the important point- such appointments will not be made on the conditions under which such people were appointed by the previous Government. That seems to be the whole tenor of the Opposition’s attack on this legislation. This legislation will stop what the previous Government did, and we make no apology for that. Indeed, we are determined that such an attack on the integrity of the Public Service will not happen again.
During his speech the Leader of the Opposition made what I can regard only as offensive remarks in relation to the Public Service as a whole and the very senior members of it in particular. When he was referring to the committee provided for in the Bill which will make recommendations on the appointment of permanent heads he questioned the likelihood of that committee picking the best man. I found that to be a most extraordinary statement. It impugns not only the impartiality but also the capacity, quite specifically, of such people as the Chairman of the Public Service Board. The Leader of the Opposition then referred to a couple of appointments which have been made under this Government. The first was that of Mr Shann to the Public Service Board. He said that this appointment had not followed the requirements of this legislation and that the Government was getting in early before this Bill was passed. I should have expected the Leader of the Opposition to know that Mr Shann was being appointed to a statutory office, the appointment not being covered by the provisions of this Bill. The procedures applying to the appointment of such officers have been announced and I am informed that they were followed in this case. There cannot be any suggestion that this appointment was hurried through in some way before this legislation was passed, because the legislation does not apply to that appointment.
As I remember, the Leader of the Opposition also referred by name to the appointment of Mr Parkinson. As his authority that the procedures as set out in this Bill had not been followed he quoted several journalists. My information is that the procedures outlined in the Bill were follewed although as the Bill had not been passed at that time there was no statutory requirement that they should be followed. Several other speakers during the debate referred to provisions m the Bill and the philosophy and principles of the Bill itself. I thought that the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) gave a well-balanced appreciation of the principles which are embodied in the legislation. He recognised that there can be a proper role for outside appointments but under conditions which are known and open. The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) returned to the theme of permanent heads and First Division appointments being made through what he termed the old boy network. He repeated the basic lack of confidence in the integrity of the Public Service as a whole.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) correctly identified the essential difference between appointments to the First Division from within the Public Service through the established candidates, to use the terminology of the Bill, and those from outside and therefore the need for proper procedures to deal with what are entirely different circumstances. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) made an extraordinary attack on the Public Service. His other main criticism seemed to be that he could not understand the Bill. I am sorry about that because if he had been able to understand it perhaps he might than have been able to make some constructive contribution to the debate.
The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Antony Whitlam) returned to the attack on the integrity of the Public Service. There seems to be an almost paranoic obsession about the Service. Political mandarins’ seems to be the in phrase used in this debate by members of the Opposition; anything associated with it must be wrong. The honourable member for Grayndler raised one issue in particular, that is, the option open to terminate the appointment of permanent heads after there had been a change of government. He asked me to clarify one point. In such circumstances it is not obligatory that such appointments be changed. What will happen is that such appointments will automatically come up for review. After consideration a government may decide that change is required but there is no obligation for a change to be made. The Bill makes proper provision for appointments to permanent head level both from within and outside the Public Service. It sets out publicly known parameters, and it will now be open for everyone to see the procedures to be followed in both kinds of appointment which are recognised by both sides of the House as crucial to the continuation of good government.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Street) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18 November, on motion by Mr Ellicott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Crimes (Biological Weapons) Bill 1976 was introduced into the Parliament in the closing days of the last parliamentary session. The Bill seeks for this Parliament the power to ratify a Convention which has been in existence for some time. That Convention relates to the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of biological agents and weapons of that nature. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill; in fact, it applauds the Bill. The Bill contains a number of provisions which clearly show the intent of thelegislatioa It refers to the Convention itself. That Convention was signed on behalf of Australia on 10 April 1972. We have now reached the ratification stage. Clause 7 of the Bill approves the ratification by Australia of that Convention.
The Bill contains some interesting provisions. It deals with acts that are to be done or which are omitted to be done by Australian citizens whether they are in Australia or outside Australia, and it applies to external territories. The penalties are severe, as they must be. Clause 8 provides for fines of $200,000 in the case of a corporation and $10,000 or imprisonment for life in the case of a person. Naturally the penalties would have to be of that magnitude because we are dealing with the horror of weaponry of a type which would be uncontrollable. The most interesting aspect of the Convention seems to be that mankind is beginning to realise that it can certainly bring about its own extermination unless something is done by means of consultation amongst the leading powers of the world.
As honourable members can see, the preamble to the Convention states that the parties to the Convention are determined to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general and complete disarmament. Everybody in every country of the world which is worthy of the name civilisation would applaud that objective. Unfortunately, because of the limitations of legal definition we are going to prevent only the development, production and stockpiling of certain types of weapons of war. There are certain other types of weapons of war which are equally horrific and in the environment of which it would be equally as difficult for mankind to survive. But the leading nations of the world have not yet developed enough consensus to agree to their removal.
In the Articles which are attached to the Bill and which provide the basis of the Convention one sees that the Convention is very wide. It means that there is to be no development of these types of bacteriological weapons. Further, there is to be a reduction in those that already exist. I think that is the major emphasis of this legislation. Article II provides an undertaking for the destruction of certain equivalent agents as soon as possible but not later than 9 months after the entry into force of the Convention. Other
Articles provide that there is to be no doubt about the constitutional aspects involved in the application of the Convention. They provide that the Convention should be applied in every sense to cover all people within the control of the party to the Convention, virtually whether those people are under or outside its jurisdiction, provided they are under its control. So it is a wide ranging Convention and we applaud the fact that the Government has seen fit to ratify it.
The history of this issue is somewhat tedious in the sense that this matter has been going on for very many years. Apparently the real emphasis upon getting some regulation- if we can put it that way- into preventing the development of horrific weapons of war came with the Geneva Protocol of 1925, when something was done particularly in respect of asphyxiating gases and the like of which unfortunate victims of the First World War would be well aware. But that 1925 Protocol seemed to remain rather dormant. Research undertaken in the Library indicates that very little was done until about 1946, when very shortly after the conclusion of the Second World War an effort was made to do something about obtaining a resolution to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, including lethal chemical and biological weapons. But very little progress seemed to be made. Apparently one of the stumbling blocks to this attempt to control weaponry was that the United States was not even a party to the Geneva Protocol of 1925. It had some resistance to these new proposals. It does not agree even now that the use of napalm, defoliants and dangerous irritant gases ought to be put into this prohibited category. We hope and trust that in the near future this sort of prohibition can apply also to those chemicals.
Honourable members will notice that the real prohibition is against the spread of the bacteriological warfare gases rather than against chemical warfare, which obviously can be limited. That is one of the sad realities of the big powers of the world not trusting each other and being prepared to say: ‘We certainly are going to have weapons of major significance, but we had better not get into the bacteriological area because it will be beyond our control’. It will be noted that in the 1960s an Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament commenced agitation for the United Nations to set up a committee of investigation. Obviously that Committee enabled this Convention to make as much progress as it did. It is significant that when it produced the United Nations report in 1969 its authors were 14 world authorities, including Bennett, Director of the New York Medical Centre, Reutov, Professor of
Chemistry at the Moscow State University, and Zuckerman, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of the United Kingdom. So a wide representation of the nations of the world was involved in deciding what should be done. It became pretty clear that by getting agreement amongst the nations of the world at the dme of the preparation of the report the 14 people involved virtually led the nations of the world to adopt this Convention.
I am advised that a very substantial number of world powers have already signed the Convention. I think the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) indicates that it has been signed by over 1 12 countries, of which 48 countries have ratified it. Accordingly, we applaud the legislation. We would love to see it extended to cover all weapons of war. We applaud the fact that there has been some breakthrough with the world powers in getting general disarmament. A lot of speeches are made in parliaments in this country and outside this country concerning fear of aggression and what it means. It is pretty clear to all mankind that if there is to be a major outbreak of warfare in the future it will be of horrific proportions. There will be no limitations to it and it will not matter very much about the limitations of this Convention. A great deal of mankind will be destroyed by chemical warfare or by other means. That is a sad prospect. Nevertheless, it is pointed out in regard to this legislation that the fact that the major powers of the world have been able to make this slight breakthrough gives us some ray of hope for the future. Accordingly, the Opposition supports the legislation.
– I think everybody will approve of the adoption of this Bill, which ratifies the Convention that is set out in the Schedule. Nothing that I say tonight in any way implies any reluctance to do that or, indeed, any criticism of the Convention. But what I want to do is to draw the attention of the House and of the nation to the inherent weakness of the Convention. If one is climbing in the mountains it may be dangerous not to have a rope, but there is one thing that is more dangerous than not having a rope and that is to have a rotten rope and to rely on it. This Convention most unhappily gives us very little protection. It deals with toxic and biological weapons. Let me speak first of the chemical weapons- the toxins. We have heard a lot of talk about how a kilogram of a botulin poison or some such chemical could kill the whole population. It could, if distributed; but how difficult it is to distribute.
What are really important are the biological weapons- the biological instruments of death. I suppose these fall into 2 categories. Firstly there is the normal disease organism. It is possible, of course, to spread normal plagues and normal diseases, whether they be of humans- the worst diseases- or of plants and animals which might lead to starvation. But that is not now the main danger. The main danger is with the organism which has been subjected to artificial mutation. We know that this can be done in many ways and that experimentally it has been done already in 3 ways. Firstly, it has been done by chemical means which can affect the genetic material. Secondly, it has been done by radiation, particularly by a dosage of high energy rays. Thirdly- this is much more dangerous still- it has been done by internal grafting. This is something which is already recognised amongst scientists as being so dangerous that they have suspended experiments in regard to it until they know more about it because they are frightened of the consequences. It is at least conceivable that, by this bacteriological grafting, disease organisms may be able to be produced to which the human response is inadequate and to which the human body has no effective defences. This is regarded as a very real possibility by those scientists who are best equipped to deal with the matter.
The trouble with the bacteriological field is that experiments and production can be done in a small plant secretly. Scientists of considerable pre-eminence are needed, sure, but the stereotype of the mad scientist has been in science fiction for a long time. It is by no means certain that it is always fiction. This kind of weapon, this kind of instrument, can be fashioned by a very skilled man in secret with apparatus which perhaps would require a space no bigger than this chamber. It requires something. It cannot be done by an amateur. It cannot be done without the normal medical apparatus; but it can be done.
Let us contrast this, for example, with the dangers of nuclear weapons about which so much pother has been raised. At least in the manufacture of nuclear weapons there is the protection that only a skilled team with access to very massive plant can be successful. With biological weapons the answer is quite different. Their production can be carried out on a very small scale. Whereas the nuclear weapon, terrible though it is, is confined in its effects, the mutated organism can be a guided missile because it can seek itself its target in the human body and by infection pass from one to another.
We are on the edge of something which can be quite terrible, and we had better realise it. This kind of thing is important perhaps in 3 contexts. We can think of it as being important in major war if a country were to use it. This convention bars a country from the use of this weapon, but how can we enforce a convention against a country with which we are at war? This can be done only by war itself. Terrible though it is-it is terriblethe fact that the weapons have not been manufactured in advance or stockpiled may not be sufficient protection if only the knowledge of how to make them has been worked out in advance.
That is the first possible use and danger. The second is organised terrorism. We see organised terrorism at work in the world in many places. This is a weapon which the terrorist can use and employ effectively. The third possible use is, of course, in individual blackmail. Until recently we thought very little of individual blackmail, but in the last decade there have been kidnappings and ransoms. There was a little incident in Victoria only a couple of days ago. Let us consider the possibilities of blackmail when this kind of weapon is available- a weapon which can be made in secret in a small plant by a skilled person.
This convention is as good as you can get. I am not trying to criticise or denigrate it; all I am saying is that we must realise the residual dangers which will still be there when this convention is ratified on a world wide scale.
Lastly let me say this: We signed this convention and we will not violate it. Having signed it we will abide by it. Furthermore for the open countries the convention is at least to a great extent self-policing. These countries cannot go in ibr this sort of thing secretly without the possibility of the knowledge of what is being done being published. But that is not true for the closed countries, the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In those countries there is not the helpful network of dissidents which would enable what is being done in those countries to be known outside their borders. This is not because their people are loyal and ours are disloyal. On the contrary; it is because their people are under policing and surveillance and ours are not. It is because they can close off large areas and keep secret from the world what is happening behind the fences. Because we are an open and free society we cannot do that kind of thing. We are vulnerable, as we should be, in this regard. They are not so vulnerable.
I know that what I am saying is not music to some ears, but it is nevertheless true. Honourable members should face the fact that when we are dealing with the communist countries we are dealing with liars; we are dealing with ruling cliques. I say nothing about the Russian people or the Chinese people who are just individuals like we are and well-intentioned like we are. I speak of the ruling parties, and here we are dealing with liars who believe no faith should be kept with non-communists and that any manoeuvre, however vile, is justifiable if it will advance their cause. This is a stark fact. It is not nice to say this, but it had better be realised because this is the world in which we are living and in which we shall all certainly die, but in which I hope we will not die before our time.
The position is this: We are signing a convention which binds us effectively but it does not bind the communist powers effectively. They have a shocking record of pact violation, of treachery and of lying and there is no reason to think that they will go back on that record in dealing with us or with any other power when it comes to this convention if only they think it pays them in advancing their cause. I do not criticise the Convention. I certainly do not criticise our signing the Convention. Let us not think that the Convention gives us any more security than it does.
-I draw the attention of the House to the Geneva Protocol of 1925-for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. This Bill deals with part of that Protocol in that it prevents the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of such biological weapons, but it does not do anything about the gases which are also mentioned in the Geneva Protocol. I raise this point in the hope that it will be considered by people who deal with problems associated with drawing up other conventions. My only point relates to the use of gases. To me, the question of the use of gases is not as clear cut as the use of bacteriological methods of warfare. The law strikes me as hypocritical to some extent and ridiculous to some extent. We get terribly excited about the use of certain gases which knock out people, make them nauseous or whatever gases used in warfare might do. To me it is a much more reasonable proposition if there is to be a war, or even for police use, to use gases which come under the definitions of the Geneva Protocol. They are certainly ‘other gases’, but they are probably also asphyxiating gases to some extent. It strikes me as ridiculous that one should exclude a type of warfare, if there is to be warfare, that does not leave any permanent damage to the person on whom it is used. If I had a choice of being affected by some gas which makes me nauseous for a day or which knocks me out for a few hours, and the following day I am OK, I would certainly prefer that to being hit with what are commonly called conventional weapons which, even if they do not kill one immediately, certainly injure one to the extent that one finishes up in hospital.
There seems to be hypocrisy- I use that word again- about certain types of warfare or alleged warfare which ought to be considered in more depth before we say that they can never be used but that it is OK to shoot people or for people to be injured by shrapnel or bombs or explosives. I congratulate the Government on introducing this legislation which in effect ratifies the Convention and which introduces a method of dealing with individuals who are extremely unlikely- but it is necessary to do this under the Convention- to go in for any of the sorts of things that are prevented by this legislation.
-Mr Deputy Speaker -
Motion (by Mr Donald Cameron) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Ellicott) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
-In giving our concurrence to this Bill, I ask the Government to take whatever steps it can in the next phase of international co-operation towards disarmament. I think Australia is in a position in which it ought to be able to use its influence in these matters. I agree with the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman). In the final analysis there is not much difference between the victim who is hit by a shell, napalm, an arrow, or a bacteriological, biological or toxicological weapon. I am not too sure that Australia has played an effective role in this matter or that it has used its influence in an attempt to get a consortium -
– You are lucky, Gordon. You had better hurry it up.
-If you want me to keep this up all night, go ahead. I place on record that I think Australia has a function to perform in this area. I take the matter further than the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who, I think, is unduly pessimistic about the people on the other side of the fence. After all, all the nasty, treacherous governments are not communist governments. I do not feel too kindly about the one in Indonesia at the moment. I think the Australian Government ought to start by taking up some other areas of international co-operation in the banning of weapons, play a much more effective part in it and perhaps start to move towards some convention which prevents the international trading in arms.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill-by leave-presented by Mr Ellicott, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Government proposes to introduce 4 Bills to alter the Constitution. The first proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide for simultaneous elections of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The second is designed to write into the Constitution the principle that a casual Senate vacancy should be filled by a member of the same political party as the one the former senator belonged to and for the balance of the term of that senator. The third proposes to amend the Constitution so as to provide for a maximum retirement age for justices of the High Court and of other Federal courts. And the fourth proposes to give electors in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a vote in future referendums. All these proposals stem from the Hobart meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention. Following that meeting, the Government gave careful consideration to the resolutions adopted last October. The proceedings at Hobart have given the Government some basis upon which to determine what proposals for constitutional reform have a real likelihood of being approved by the electors. The Government’s view in the light of the Convention is that the 4 proposals now brought forward should find general support amongst our people.
The purpose of the Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill is to alter the Constitution to provide for simultaneous elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Leaving aside double dissolutions, there is at present no requirement that the elections of the 2 Houses be held at the same time and since 1963 they have frequently been held on separate occasions. The reason for this is that there are different electoral requirements for the 2 Houses. The House of Representatives is elected for a period of 3 years subject to earlier dissolution by the Governor-General. The Senate is a continuing body with senators elected for 6-year terms and it cannot be dissolved except in the event of a double dissolution. But the 6-year terms of senators are staggered. Half of them retire each 3 years and elections are needed to choose their replacements.
Under the existing provisions it is theoretically possible to keep the elections for the 2 Houses in phase by holding elections for the House of Representatives whenever half-Senate elections are due. However, the exigencies of political life are such that synchronisation on this basis is difficult to maintain. Apart from the special circumstances of the double dissolutions in 1974 and 1975, elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives have been out of phase since 1963. In the 9-year period from 1963 to 1972 there were in fact no less than 7 separate national elections. If the relevant constitutional requirements are not changed there could be as many as 4 elections from 1978 to 1981 and as many as 14 elections over the 20-year period from 1961 to 1981.
This Bill accordingly provides for the Constitution to be amended so as to ensure that the elections for the 2 Houses will be brought together. It provides for half-Senate elections to be brought Unto line with elections for the House of Representatives whenever those elections may occur. Apart from the benefits of public convenience and savings of expenditure the proposal will benefit the Parliament. By ensuring that the people’s will is reflected simultaneously in both Houses, it will provide a more satisfactory electoral basis upon which the government of the country can proceed.
The proposal that is provided for in the Bill is substantially the same as the one that was submitted to referendum by the then Labor Government in 1974, and on that occasion the proposal only narrowly failed to obtain the required support. The Government believes that it is desirable that the proposal be now submitted to a further referendum. The proposal is in accord with a unanimous recommendation that was made by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Review in its 1958 and 1959 reports. It is one, moreover, for which substantial support was expressed from both sides of Aus.tralian politics at the Hobart meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention held in October last year.
The Bill proposes that simultaneous elections be achieved by providing for senators to hold office normally for 2 terms of the House of Representatives instead of for 6 years as at present. This Will, of course, be subject to any earlier double dissolution of both Houses that may take place under section 57 of the Constitution.
The practical operation of the proposed amendments on senators holding office at the time when the amendments take effect will, subject to a double dissolution, be as follows:
Senators whose terms are due to expire in June 1978 wil hold office until the first House of Representatives election after the amendments take effect;
Senators whose terms are due to expire in June 1981 will hold office until the second House of Representatives election after the amendments take effect.
An incidental matter to which I draw attention is that it is proposed that section 9 of the Constitution be amended to empower this Parliament, rather than the State parliaments, to make laws determining the times and places of electing of senators. This is a logical consequence of bringing elections for both Houses of the Parliament together.
The proposal will also remedy certain technical deficiencies that have been recognised to exist under the present sections 13 and 15. These were brought to attention by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Review in its 1959 report. More recently they have been under consideration by Standing Committee ‘D’ of the Australian Constitutional Convention which noted that they would be cured by the simultaneous elections proposal.
First there is a doubt as to how, after a double dissolution, the term of service of a person who has been validly chosen as a senator, but who has died, resigned or become disqualified before the division of senators into short-term and longterm classes, should be dealt with under section 13. It is doubtful whether such a person can be included in that division. This will be expressly covered by a specific provision requiring the division to be made as if the place of the senator had not become vacant. The provision will not, however, alter the existing practice and procedure for determining which senators should be long-term and which should be short-term.
The other deficiency relates to persons who are elected as senators, but who have died, resigned or become disqualified before the commencement of their terms of service. Such cases are not likely to happen often and only one case has in fact occurred. But it is doubtful whether the casual vacancy procedures are at present available in such a situation. This doubt will be removed by the present proposal because under the new provisions a senator’s term of service will commence on the day of his election, rather than on the first day of July after the election as is at present provided in section 13 of the Constitution.
The proposal in this Bill departs from the earlier proposal in the following minor respects:
The 10 day limit within which writs for Senate elections must be issued will be extended to 14 days to permit greater flexibility without unduly delaying the election;
The 1974 Bill contained a transitional provision to deal with the possibility of an earlier double dissolution. That provision is omitted from the present Bill on the ground that it is unnecessary. The present Bill contains a provision rendering ineffective provisions in it relating to casual vacancies if the Constitution Alteration (Senate Casual Vacancies) Bill is passed.
The BUI contains a redrafted provision to deal with the position of a senator holding office at the time the law commences by virtue of a casual vacancy. In substance it is the same as the provision in the earlier proposal.
The earlier BUI contained different provisions for the terms of existing senators. This appears to have been because of the particular situation which existed with respect to their term when that Bill was proposed. In broad principle however, the Bills are the same in this regard.
I commend the Bill to the House.
– I move:
That the debate be now adjourned and that the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
My Party will then help to give the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill- by leave-presented by Mr Ellicott, and read a first dme.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to write into the Constitution the principle that a casual Senate vacancy should be filled by a member of the same political party as the former senator belonged to. The filling of casual Senate vacancies is governed by section IS of the Constitution, which provides for the new senator to be chosen by the Parliament of the State for which the former senator was chosen. If the Parliament is not in session at the time, the Governor of the State, with the advice of its Executive Council, may make a temporary appointment.
The procedure in section 15 preserves the principle that in the Senate the States are to be represented equally. But it does not ensure that a vacancy will be filled in a way that will preserve the relative voting strengths of the political parties represented in the Senate. Nevertheless from the introduction of proportional representation in 1949 until the vacancy caused by Senator Murphy’s appointment to the High Court in 1975 the practice was observed of filling casual vacancies by the appointment of a person belonging to the same political party as the former senator.
When Senator Murphy had to be replaced this practice was questioned. Questions arose as to whether it was incumbent on the New South Wales Parliament to replace him with a member of the Australian Labor Party. There were some who felt that there was a convention which required the vacancy to be filled on that basis. But others took the contrary view. In the result, as honourable members will well remember, the person chosen to replace Senator Murphy was not a member of the Labor Party. In choosing the person to replace Senator Murphy the New South Wales Parliament quite clearly acted within the strict terms of the Constitution. Whether it breached a convention is a matter on which opinions have, and no doubt wil continue, to differ.
Similar questions arose in relation to the person chosen by the Queensland Parliament to replace the late Senator Milliner. The person chosen was a member of the late Senator Milliner’s party but had not been nominated by it. More recently, however, following the death of the late Senator Greenwood, the filling of his place followed the convention. He was replaced by a person who was a member of the political party to which the late Senator belonged.
The manner in which casual Senate vacancies should be filled was discussed at the Hobart meeting of the Constitutional Convention last October. On that occasion different views were expressed as to what the principles should be but there was a consensus that the present state of uncertainty that exists in regard to the matter is undesirable. The Convention passed a resolution in the following terms:
That this Convention affirms the principle that a casual vacancy in the Senate which occurs by reason of the death of a Senator or the disqualification or resignation of a Senator caused by bona fide illness or incapacity, should, in order to maintain the principle of proportional representation and the wishes of the people of the State at the relevant Senate election, be filled by a member of the same political party as the Senator whose vacancy is to be filled, but in reaffirming this principle the Convention recommends that the Constitution be amended to provide that the person elected by the Houses of Parliament of the State should hold office for the balance of the term of the Senator whose place he is taking.
The Government has concluded that the appropriate course is to invite the people of Australia to write provisions into the Constitution which will make clear and certain the manner in which Senate casual vacancies are to be fined. The effect of the amendments proposed is that a Senate casual vacancy will have to be filled by a person chosen from the same political party as the person he is to replace. This wil ensure the preservation of the relative strengths of the political parties in the Senate before a vacancy occurs. Doubt was expressed in the 1959 report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Review and in a report of Standing Committee D of the Australian Constitutional Convention whether the concept of a political party is sufficiently certain in its meaning to be written into a provision in the Constitution. I have considered this question but am satisfied that the provision as drafted in the present Bill will operate with certainty of application to the circumstances of Australian political life. It is practicable therefore to insert the provision in the Constitution rather than leave the matter to be governed by a convention which would be uncertain and lead inevitably to debates of the kind that have already taken place.
The amendment will operate only when the senator chosen by the people- that is at an electionwas, at the time he was chosen, publicly recognised by a political party as being an endorsed candidate of that party and publicly represented himself to be such a candidate. The replacement of senators who were elected as independents will not be affected. If the person who has been chosen as a replacement ceases before taking his seat to be a member of the party to which the former senator belonged, he will be deemed not to have been chosen or appointedunless the reason why he ceased to be a member of that party was that the party itself ceased to exist.
One question that was debated at the Hobart meeting was whether any amendment of the Constitution or a convention governing the manner of filling Senate casual vacancies should apply to all vacancies no matter how they arose, or whether they should be applicable only in the case of vacancies caused by death, disqualification or resignation cause by bona fide illness or incapacity. The resolution passed at the Hobart meeting in fact supported the view that an amendment should be confined to vacancies of this latter kind. The Government has, however, concluded that it would not be desirable to have different rules applying for different types of Senate casual vacancies and the amendment provided for in the present Bill will accordingly apply to all Senate vacancies no matter how they arise.
In accordance with the resolution passed at the Hoban meeting a person appointed as a replacement senator will hold office under the proposed amendment for the balance of the original senator’s term, instead of until the next House of Representatives or Senate election as at present. One matter which the amendments make clear is that a replacement senator can himself be replaced. Any subsequent replacement will, however, like the original replacement, have to be on the basis that the relevant political party is always the party for which the original senator was endorsed at the time he was chosen by the people. The Government would hope that this Bill will be supported on both sides of the House. This, more than anything else, will convince the electorate that the proposed amendments are desirable and should be accepted. I commend the Bill to the House.
– I move:
My Party will then help give the Bill a speedy passsage
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Ellicott, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Constitution so as to provide for a maximum retirement age for justices of the High Court and of other Federal courts. Section 72 of the Constitution provides for justices of the High Court and of other courts created by the Parliament to be appointed by the Governor-General in Council and it provides that they are not to be removed, except by the Governor-General in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
As long ago as 1918, the High Court held in Alexander’s case that section 72 requires that every justice of the High Court and every justice of any other court created by the Commonwealth Parliament, and indeed every magistrate so appointed, shall, subject to the power of removal contained in that section, be appointed for life. It has, in consequence, been generally accepted that justices of the High Court, and other Federal judges including magistrates, cannot be required to retire on reaching a specified age. This is an unsatisfactory situation. There is an almost universal practice that the holders of public offices retire on attaining a maximum retirement age. The reasons for this practice are well known and they do not need to be spelt out here.
In Australia and in similar countries there is a growing acceptance of the need for a maximum retiring age for judges. In all Australian States a retiring age has been fixed for Supreme Court judges. The question of a maximum retiring age has assumed increased significance today when there are many more Federal judges than in 1918 when Alexander’s case was decided. At present there are in all S3 serving Federal judges. This includes seven on the High Court, 19 on the Federal Court of Australia and 27 on the Family Court of Australia. When the Family Law BUI was passing through Parliament in 1 975 the view was taken that Family Court judges should be required to retire on attaining the age of 65 years. Provisions were in fact included in the BUI to ensure that this is the position in the case of judges appointed to State Family Courts. But the present constitutional requirements precluded similar provisions being included in relation to judges appointed to the Family Court of Australia. It is anomalous that this distinction between Federal and State judges of similar courts should exist and that the Commonwealth Parliament should be unable to do anything about the matter.
The amendment provided for in this Bill is in accordance with recommendations made in October last year by the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and by the Hobart meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention. The Senate Committee’s recommendation drew a distinction between justices of the High Court and judges of other Federal courts. The Committee considered that the Constitution itself should provide that High Court justices be required to retire on reaching the age of 70 years and that Parliament should be empowered to fix the maximum retirement ages of other Federal judges subject to a constitutional limit of 70 years. This is a proposal with which the Government fully agrees. The Constitutional Convention, by an overwhelming majority, adopted the Senate Committee’s recommendation in its own resolution. The distinction drawn by the Senate Committee is an important one. In observing this distinction the amendment contained in this BUI recognises the special position of the High Court as the Federal Supreme Court created by the Constitution and vested with the power to interpret the Constitution and, one hopes, soon with ultimate appellate power in this country. It also recognises that the same considerations do not necessarily apply in the case of judges and magistrates in courts other than the High Court and that the position in regard to those other courts may well vary from court to court.
There are 3 important safeguards embodied in the present proposal, all of which were contained in the recommendations of the Senate Committee and the Constitutional Convention. Firstly, the amendment will have only a prospective operation. That is to say, the existing life tenure of all Federal judges holding office at the time of commencement of the amendment wil be preserved. There can be no suggestion, therefore, that the amendment is directed against any existing judges, or that those judges will be prejudiced in any way by the amendment. An existing judge will, however, become subject to the retirement requirements of the amendment if, after the amendment takes effect, he accepts appointment to another office of justice of the same court having a different status or designation. If, for example, a justice of a court were, after the amendment took effect, to accept appointment as Chief Justice of that court, he would thereafter be subject to the retirement age applicable to any justice of that court.
The second safeguard is that, even though under the proposal this Parliament wil be authorised to fix the specific retiring age forjudges of federal courts other than the High Court, a judge once appointed will have a constitutionally guaranteed tenure to the retiring age that was applicable to his office at the time of his appointment. In other words, any subsequent changes in the retiring ages will, again, be purely prospective in effect. This wil ensure that there can never be even any suggestion that judicial retiring ages are being manipulated. More importantly, however, it will help to secure the independence of the federal judiciary, notwithstanding the existence of a procedure for fixing retiring ages.
The third safeguard is that the existing provision in the Constitution that federal judges cannot be removed from office except on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity wil be preserved subject only to the provisions relating to retirement. This will remain the formal ultimate guarantee for the independence of the federal judiciary. As I have indicated, the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs and the Hobart meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention have recommended this proposal. It will provide for federal judges to retire at an appropriate age without in any way interfering with the independence of the judiciary. I commend the BUI to the House.
– I move:
My Party wil then help to give the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill- by leave- presented by Mr Ellicott, and read a first time.
The purpose of this BUI is to give electors in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern
Territory the right to vote in referendums for the alteration of the Constitution. At present a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution must be submitted in each State for the approval of the electors qualified to vote for the House of Representatives. A proposed amendment is not, however, submitted to electors in the Territories. If a referendum proposal is to succeed it must be passed by what has become known as a ‘double majority’. The proposal must be passed by a majority of all the electors voting in the referendum and it must also be passed by a majority of votes in a majority of States.
The amendment provided for in the Bill will require a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution to be submitted to all electors qualified to vote for the House of Representatives. It will not matter whether those electors live in a State or a Territory. The amendment will affect the operation of the first of the double majority requirements I have mentioned, that is, the requirement that there be a majority vote of all the electors. That majority will now take account of the votes of electors who are resident in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Any other Territory which in future develops to the stage where it is allowed representation in the House of Representatives will also at that stage be automatically covered by the amendment. The proposed amendment will not, however, affect the second majority requirement I have mentioned, that is the requirement that a proposal for amendment of the Constitution must be passed by a majority vote in a majority of States. That requirement will continue to apply as at present.
Both Territories have repeatedly sought the right to participate in referendums. The former Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory passed a series of resolutions between 1965 and 1967 seeking voting rights in referendums and the former Northern Territory Legislative Council passed a similar resolution on 1 1 October 1973. The proposal to give electors in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a vote in constitutional referendums was also the first item on the agenda of the meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention in Hobart last year and was overwhelmingly endorsed by that Convention, I think, by a vote of 81 to 10
It may come as a surprise to many Australians that electors who are resident in the Territories are not at present entitled to vote in constitutional referendums. The reason for this is to be found in the fact that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory did not exist when the Constitution was framed. But now that these Territories are rapidly growing communities with representation in both Houses of the Federal Parliament there is no sound reason to exclude them from participating in the process of constitutional reform. When the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory ceased to be parts of the States of New South Wales and South Australia respectively the residents of the Territories were disenfranchised. In the intervening years they have been allowed representation in both Houses. The proposal in this Bill if adopted wil redress the situation.
In principle, the proposition that all electors of the Federal Parliament ought to be entitled to vote in referendums cannot be open to challenge. What is involved is a basic democratic right. Electors in the Territories are not second-rate citizens. They, like other Australians, are affected by changes to the Constitution and it is anomalous that they do not, at present, have the right to participate in referendums. Honourable members will recall that a proposal to give Territory electors referendum voting rights was included in the Constitution Alteration (Mode of Altering the Constitution) Bill that failed at a referendum in 1974. It was then, however, linked with a proposal that section 128 of the Constitution should be amended to allow changes to the Constitution if a majority of voters in only 3 States agreed to the alteration instead of a majority of voters in a majority of States, as the Constitution now provides.
– Strictly a majority of electors in not less than half the number of States.
– Yes. The present Bill does not link the proposal with any other proposal. This will enable people to interpret it. Although different in terms it is in substance the same as that measure. The indications from the Hobart meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention are that the proposal that Territory electors should be given a vote in referendums has overwhelming support. The Government believes that the proposal is one which should now be submitted to the people. I commend the Bill to the House.
– I move:
My Party will then help to give the BUI a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9 November, on motion by Mr Killen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Very little can be said about this Bill. It is purely a procedural Bill. It indicates the thorough and completely dedicated attitude of the new era in matters of defence. It is a minor Bill which has been presented by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) to correct what has been the cause of some difficulties within the Department of Defence. We have a new highly efficient approach to and a sense of responsibility for matters of defence. I commend the Bill and give it my full support.
– I support the Bill. I seek your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, to address a few remarks which are a little wide of the narrow issues contained in the Bill. As the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has pointed out, the purpose of this Bill is to reaffirm the situation in the defence force compact of the Royal Australian Air Force and, in particular, the confusion which has occurred in the past by the use of the words ‘ Air Office’ which will now be replaced by virtue of this legislation with the words ‘Air Force Office ‘. The ‘Defence Instructions (Air)’ issued by the Chief of the Air Staff under the Defence Act will become ‘Defence Instructions (Air Force)’. In introducing the Bill the Minister for Defence, (Mr Killen) in his own inimitable style said:
Nevertheless it was a Bm which he commended to honourable members. I believe it is an opportune time just to consider the situation in relation to the Air Force generally in view of the fact that this Bill does reaffirm a most important criterion in the structure of the RAAF. I suppose I could be pardoned if I made some general comment though, I add, not in a scathing or critical way on the situation of the RAAF insofar as it affects the State of Tasmania. I will not abuse any privilege which you extend to me, Mr Deputy Speaker, to allow me to address a few remarks m this regard because I do regard it as extremely important at this point in time- I note that the Minister for Defence is present in the chamber- to assess the situation of the RAAF and in particular in respect of the security and surveillance of the State of Tasmania.
– I raise a point of order. This is a very limited measure. Whilst I can sympathise with the honourable member wanting to raise things, he will have adequate opportunity to do so on the adjournment debate. I do not believe that this debate can be extended to the limits to which the honourable member is now extending it. This is a very narrow measure.
-This is one problem which faces not only the Chair but also the House. If in appreciation of the situation relating to the time factor the Chair allows an honourable member to go outside the terms of the Bill another honourable member may seek to reply to those comments. Once that happens the debate becomes a broad and wide one. I think it might be as well to allow the matter to develop a bit further before further points of order are raised.
-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will not abuse the courtesy you have extended to me but I do wish to make some points not in a critical sense but more or less by submission to the Minister in respect of the situation of the RAAF insofar as it affects Tasmania. Some time ago the Minister very kindly permitted me to represent him at an official function in Hobart and I had the opportunity to have discussions with members of the RAAF- few though they are- stationed in Hobart about the situation in relation to the RAAF in Tasmania. I was about to say before the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) interrupted me that a former honourable member of this chamber wrote himself into history by making the comment that Tasmania was an island completely surrounded by water and because it is an island completely surrounded by water, to quote the former honourable member of this chamber who made that historic comment, the people of Tasmania are very concerned about the question of surveillance. In particular we are concerned about the surveillance of the off-shore waters of Tasmania which, under the laws of the sea, may well now be extended to a 200-mile limit. Those waters are very rich with natural resources. Tasmania is very important from a strategic point of view. We are somewhat concerned at the present surveillance of Tasmanian waters though we appreciate the problems facing the RAAF. Surveillance has been restricted to DC3s with visual observation. 1 hope that the Minister will not think I am greedy if I ask him whether he is prepared to consider the possibility of sending a flight of Orions to Tasmania either to be permanently based or otherwise. As I understand it there are Orions operating out of Edinburgh in South Australia. I believe there are also Orions in Queensland. I am informed that Orions can fly from Hobart to Darwin non-stop and half way back. I do not think the Minister would regard me as greedy if I asked whether it is possible for his Department to give consideration to basing a flight, which I understand is a group of up to 4 Orion aircraft, in Tasmania or by arrangement with the authorities in South Australia at Edinburgh for regular surveillance flights over Tasmanian waters by Orions from that State. I am instructed that these Orions -
– What about the FI 1 ls?
– I will come to the FI 1 ls in a minute. I am instructed that these Orions are very sophisticated submarine trackers.
– Where will they be based?
-I will come to that too in a minute. I understand that the Orions have a flight duration of 16 hours; that they carry highly technical, sensitive and sophisticated equipment; that they have a crew which comprises at least 5 operators or technicians and frequently, because of the distance of the flight, they fly with 2 crews, one on board and a reserve crew which takes over at some stage of the flight. The situation is a matter of importance. I will not strain the honourable member for Corio much longer because it is a very rare opportunity to be able to put a request to a Minister in a parliamentary debate and on a Bill such as this it is an opportunity which I could not miss. I appeal to the Minister to consider making available Orions or if not Orions then Neptunes for permanent surveillance of Tasmanian waters in lieu of the present DC3 visual surveillance which we have at the moment.
My remaining comments will be brief. I am sure the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) is absolutely delighted to know that as of today Wing Commander Jim Trethewey of Burnie has been appointed Officer in Charge of Air Cadets in Tasmania. That is extremely encouraging because the Air Cadet unit in Tasmania has suffered somewhat over recent years. Regrettably too, as the Minister would be aware -
-Order! The honourable member for Denison has said that today a certain event took place. Might I say that up to this moment I think the honourable member has sufficiently covered matters which are outside the Bill and it might be an idea if he gave some thought to what is set out in the Bill.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I am obliged to you for your advice because I was about to make the point that the Officer in
Charge of Air Cadets in Tasmania will now be dealing with the Air Force Office which is the title that is now defined as a result of this Bill coming before the Parliament and not the very confusing name ‘Air Office’. If I might say so- and the Minister made the comment in Yos opening remarks in introducing this legislationthere was considerable confusion in minds of members of the public when they were dealing with the Air Office as to whether they were dealing with the RAAF or with the old department of civil aviation. I will not speak any further except to say that when the Parliament passes legislation in effect to give recognition to important segments of the RAAF I hope we will follow up the passage of that legislation with a realistic application of personnel because there is not much point in putting something into the statutes and redefining the names of various organisations if we do not have the personnel to fill those offices. There is not much point legislating by an Act of Parliament to change the name from Air Office to Air Force Office and there is not much point in amending all these other sections of the Act unless we have the staff and the personnel to serve in those offices. I think the 20 permanent officers and crew for the RAAF for Tasmania is, with respect, a bit on the light side. I would hope that the Minister for whom I have a great admiration and respect will ensure that the Royal Tasmanian Air Force, if I might for the purposes of this debate name it such, is not further reduced because it is now down to 20 with an occasional visit by a DC3. 1 seriously commend to the Minister a flight of Orions as directed by the Air Force Office for proper surveillance of Tasmania and upgrading in the number of staff and personnel. The Bill has my complete support.
-This is a very narrow and limited measure. The Opposition believes that it should go through the Parliament with the minimum delay. I think it is unfortunate that this debate should evolve into a general defence debate. I think there are other times and other opportunities for such debates. I would hope this practice does not continue. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. The Opposition does not see anything in the Bill that warrants debate. We could congratulate the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) or say that someone else should have taken this action at some other time, but we do not believe in wasting the time of the House with superfluous debate on matters which could easily be raised elsewhere. The Opposition supports the Bill.
-Mr Deputy Speaker I ask for a withdrawal of the remarks from the honourable member for Corio that I was wasting time. It is a reflection, Sir, and I object to it.
-I was going to say that this is a Bill which has something to do with air but I suggest to the honourable member for Denison that he is a little oversensitive. I do not think that any of the remarks of the honourable member for Corio were a personal reflection on the honourable member for Denison.
-This is a short Bill but it has vast implications which apprently are not obvious to all members of the House. It has 3 main components. Firstly, it deals with an extremely important aspect of the morale and efficiency of the defence forces. It is a tribute to the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) not only in relation to the efficient running of the forces but to his meticulous attention throughout the past year to matters of morale. The morale of the forces is the most important initial task of the Government in the reconstitution of a proper defence force structure for this country. When we came into office it was apparent that there had been serious dints in the morale of the defence forces. It was public knowledge and a number of former members of the defence forces, including the present Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman), publicly stated that their political ambitions were prompted by their concern for the country and the neglect of the defence forces in which they were serving.
This Bill arises from the direct request by the Chief of Air Staff that a confusion be avoided. I make it plain to the House that the confusion has arisen not only in respect of persons believing that the air regulations apply to civil aviation but also in respect of the content of some of the instructions. Although it is not expressly stated in the second reading speech, it can be clearly seen that one of the areas of concern must have been the area of defence procurement. Obviously, as we have at present a fairly complicated system of defence procurement it is important to avoid confusion. In order to contract with the Government to provide defence equipment it is necessary for a prospective contractor to deal with a large number of government departments or organisations within the government including the Air Force.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I congratulate the honourable member on his ability to expand one sentence and make a speech of great capacity. However, I point out that in the first sentence of the second reading speech the Minister for Defence said that this was a small procedural Bill which seeks to amend the Defence Act and that it arises from a suggestion made. Perhaps we should consider this Bill within that very limited framework and should restrict the debate simply to the alteration of the wording to avoid a confusion in relationship between one department and another, not to avoid a confusion within the Air Force itself.
– Of course, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am subject to your rulings and I do not canvass them. The point I am making firstly is that this is a small Bill. Secondly, it is a procedural Bill but that does not derogate from the fact that it is a procedural Bill with considerable implications. It seeks to avoid confusion between the Air Force and civil aviation in the minds of persons dealing with either the Air Force or the Department of Transport. It is important to outline the history of the confusion for the House to understand fully the purport of the Bill and its implications. I shall take a simple example. If a contractor has to deal with the Department of Defence, the Air Office, the Purchasing Office, the Department of Industry and Commerce and now the Department of Productivity- the problem has arisen particularly with regard to the Air Force- he may have a processing of paper work over many months, often in circumstances in which that contractor’s business may well founder if the contract is not proceeded with speedily. He may have contracted through a civil agency by error, by confusion or by being misled by the title of the government department. History may show that contracts have been held up and that there has been detriment to the persons concerned. As I understand it, that is one of the implications of this Bill although it does not appear on the face of the Bill.
In removing such confusion the Minister has produced not only more efficiency but a much greater boost to the morale of the defence forces, in particular the Air Force, so that people know with whom they are dealing. If the Air Force itself can be dealt with by a member of the public or other persons then we avoid difficulties.
-I point out to the honourable member for St George that one can give an illustration on almost any Bill that comes before the House if one desires. He has been a member of the Parliament for a sufficient length of time to know that many members make passing references to certain factors which perhaps have no relevance to the Bill. I accept the fact that this is a Bill which concerns the Royal Australian Air Force. Therefore passing references may be a little faster, particularly as we now have Fills and Mirages. But even at that speed passing references, implications and so forth are still not relevant to the actual subject matter of the Bill before the House. I point out again the difficulty that confronts the Chair and the House. We are now running into the grave danger of this debate being widened into a debate on defence. That is something that certainly must not be allowed to happen. The honourable member for St George should restrict his remarks to the very limited Bill and the very limited subject which is being debated.
-The thrust of the Bill is clear from the Minister’s speech but that is not the end of it. I will not seek to widen the debate and turn it into a debate on civil aviation which is a topic that could be dealt with if one were to take the wider implications of the Bill. We know that there was in the recent past a combination of departments and that we do not now have a separate Department of Civil Aviation. If we had a separate Department of Civil Aviation some of the confusion that has arisen might not have occurred. The difficulty is that we do not have a separate Department of Civil Aviation; we have a number of different departments with which people have to deal. The term ‘(Air)’ at the end of ‘Defence Instructions’ can also cause confusion within the Defence Department itself not only in relation to Air Force matters but also in relation to other Services, particularly when they deal with air. As the Minister said, it is clear that the problem has arisen because of the amalgamation of the Department of Civil Aviation with the major Transport portfolio and the failure of the former instructions to carry the full words (Air Force)’ after the words ‘Defence Instructions’. That is the thrust of the Bill. But that ought to be sufficient to point out the implications of the Bill and to enable a consideration of the history of the Bill, particularly as it relates to confusion between civil aviation and defence and what is required to deal with the matter from now on.
Having put that point to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not seek to widen the debate further in the face of any ruling that you may give, other than to put it on the basis of the indulgence that was given, I thought quite properly, to the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman). Apparently it was considered by the Chair that he was properly directing himself to the Bill when he talked about aeroplanes in Tasmania. All I have talked about is civil aviation, the Department of Defence and the confusion that has been caused by contractors who might want to contract to the Department of Civil Aviation, which no longer exists, or who might want to contract to the Air Force, which is not properly described, but whose contract documents may be held up. Difficulties may arise in the processing of the contract, and that may cause undue reflections. If that should happen- I do not give to the House any particular instance of that happening; I do not have any such information- and then, of course, if a prospective contractor complains subsequently it could tend to bring the Air Force into the situation of having questions asked about its position and its having to defend its position. That raises a morale problem and efficiency problem. I simply ask: Why is it that the Chief of the Air Staff -
– I raise on a point of order. The honourable member has been ruled out of order 3 times because he is following that line. If he is allowed to pursue it, are you going to allow other speakers to broaden this debate under the same conditions, Mr Deputy Speaker?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order! The point of order is well taken. The Deputy Speaker who was in charge of the House before I took the Chair obviously made rulings on this matter and warned the honourable member for St George in regard to the debate. We know that the Bill being debated is very narrow in its provisions. I remind the honourable member for St George once again of the forms of the House and his obligation to comply with them in this debate.
-I was not ruled out of order, as the honourable member suggested. Since Mr Deputy Speaker Lucock gave his rulings I have sought meticulously to observe the forms of the House. I have outlined the position. If you consider that I have exhausted the narrow scope of the Bill and if I am not able to obtain from you the same indulgence as the honourable member for Denison received previously, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have already said that I would be content, having made the point, to conclude my remarks. So I am in no way exceeding the forms of the House. I am putting the position clearly to you. I welcome your ruling as to whether I may proceed further in the manner in which the honourable member for Denison proceeded or whether I may not.
-Order! I was not present in the chamber when the honourable member for Denison was speaking. I would have to rule on this occasion that if you enlarge the debate you will be out of order.
– Then I do not seek to enlarge the debate.
-On 9 November 1976 the Minister for Defence, the honourable member for Moreton, Mr Killen, said:
This is a small procedural Bill which seeks to amend the Defence Act. It arises out of a suggestion made by the Chief of the Air Staff that the term ‘air’ within the Royal Australian Air Force organisation is confusing some people because they because that it applies to civil aviation. The purpose of the Bill, in effect, is to put that position beyond all doubt. The term ‘air’ within the RAAF organisation will be replaced by the term ‘air force’. Therefore, ‘Air Office’ will become ‘Air Force Office’ and ‘Defence Instruction (Air)’ issued by the Chief of Air Staff under the Defence Act will become ‘Defence Instructions (Air Force)’. That is the thrust of the Bill. It seeks to amend section 9A of the Defence Act and also makes routine amendments to the Defence Act. I have already said to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) who is at the table -
He is not at the table now- that I do not think it is the sort of Bill - (Quorum formed). It is appropriate to remember that, whilst honourable members opposite are complaining about the exercise in which we on this side of the House are engaging, it is the speakers that they listed for this debate who have reneged and who have placed the Government in the position of having time on its hands before the commencement of the adjournment debate. If honourable members opposite had done the right thing -
-Order! The House will come to order. Honourable members will resume their seats. I call the honourable member for Griffith.
– I appreciate your timely intervention, Mr Deputy Speaker. As I was saying, if honourable members opposite had done the right thing and had spoken on this Bill as arranged we would not be subjected to this rather embarrassing situation.
– I rise on a point of order. The Deputy Whip for the Liberal Party is making allegations about arrangements. He is accusing honourable members on this side of the House of having their names on some mythical list. I suggest that he should give to the House the correct version of the situation. He knows that he is not conveying the actual position. Indeed, he blocked the debate on other Bills earlier today.
-Order! It is not the function of the Chair to know what arrangements have been or have not been made. I call the honourable member for Griffith.
-Despite what the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) says, I have a list here. Under the heading ‘Defence Amendment Bill’ appears the name Hayden’ as spokesman for the Labor Party. I am quite sure that he does not sit on this side of the House. Before I was interrupted I was referring to the speech made on 9 November -
– I rise on a point of order.
-Is the honourable member for Hindmarsh in his right seat?
-He cannot raise a point of order while he is not in his correct seat.
-Order! The Chair will deal with that matter.
– I can take a point of order from anywhere I Uke, but I cannot speak from anywhere but my right place. I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. An honourable gentleman behind me has cast aspersions upon the honourable gentleman by saying that he has just had another topless party. I think that comment ought to be withdrawn.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Firstly, as is typical of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), he is not even in his right seat. Secondly, he is casting aspersions upon honourable members on this side of the chamber. I suggest that you should tell him to use the right side of the chamber, to sit down in his right seat and to perform correctly.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Bendigo and other honourable members not to take frivolous points of order.
-What the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) just said is completely untrue; but let me tell him that if I had just had a party with 20 women and I was seeking a eunuch to stand guard over them I would not ask the honourable member for Hindmarsh to fulfil that role.
-Order! I have just warned the honourable member for Bendigo for taking a frivolous point of order. If the honourable member for Griffith is going to get on his feet I should Uke him to address himself to the BUI. I do not wish to hear any more personal innuendoes in this debate.
– I appreciate your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker. Just before I was interrupted I was recalling a speech made on 9 November 1976 by the honourable member for Moreton and Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). I conclude by saying that he said in that speech: . . I do not think it is the sort of Bill which will cause tumult throughout the country. Nevertheless, it is a Bill which I commend to honourable members.
Again I go back to the point that regrettably honourable members on the other side of the House have failed to appear to speak on this procedural Bill. I do hope that honourable members on both sides of the House are able to enter an early adjournment debate tonight. I do not think any more efforts from this side of the House will hold up this debate. I commend the Bill and support the Minister.
Motion (by Mr Armitage) put:
That the debate be now adjourned. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. H. Drummond)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I did not intend to enter the debate on this Bill. I make it quite clear that the Opposition has supported the measure put forward by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). This was indicated earlier in the debate by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who made a succinct and valuable contribution to the debate. However, Government speakers have raised some matters on this measure which I think require a reply. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) referred to a speaking list. I have already answered that. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) made a plea for Orions to be sent to Tasmania for surveillance purposes. He spoke for some time on this matter. Since he was permitted to raise the matter I would like to ask whether reasons can be given for that plea. After all we are looking at the question of the most efficient use for the Orions which are long-range surveillance aircraft. When one looks in other fields where the Royal Australian Air Force is called upon to supply a capability one realises that the adoption of that suggestion would not result in the aircraft being used in the most effective way. In dealing with surveillance, smuggling and so on often the response time is rather short.
The Minister for Defence when introducing the Bill suggested that the changes are being made following a request by the Chief of Air Staff because confusion is occurring. I remind Government supporters that when they use these sorts of tactics to detract from the procedures of the House other problems arise. If I took the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) seriously he was saying that the changes are necessary to prevent confusion amongst tenderers and contractors. It is my belief that such tenderers and contractors would naturally be looking for advertisements and other means by which tenders and contracts for services required are made public. They would well know where to send for contract and tender documents and how to make a submission. I accept the suggestion as a reasonable proposition for the sake of clarity, but one wonders why it was made. It appears we have to have this clarification with the Air Office and the Defence Instructions. One might well say that we need to have the same alteration for the Chief of Air Staff so that his title can be changed to the Chief of Air Force Staff. None of us really confuses reference to ‘ air ‘ in that context with the field of civil aviation. The Minister in introducing the Bill said that it was not the sort of bill which would cause tumult throughout the country. It has caused some tumult in the House. I believe an attempt has been made to abuse the procedures of the House while restricting debates on previous Bills when members of the Opposition had something of real value to contribute.
– in reply-I take this opportunity to thank those honourable members who have taken part in the debate. I believe that the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins), the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) each made a valuable if somewhat different sort of contribution to the debate. I think this demonstrates the desire by members on both sides of the House to take part in a debate on defence. The areas covered by this Bill are very narrow, and enthusiastic members from both sides of the House tried to expand the breadth of the Bill and debate general defence matters. I suppose it could be something of a defiance of the Chair.
We appreciate the contributions by each honourable gentleman. I will relay to the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) the matter raised by the honourable member for St George. I will also convey to the Minister the thoughtful suggestion of the honourable member for Denison that perhaps some Orions should be permanently based in Tasmania. Time is drawing on and I will not delay the business of the House any longer. I thank all honourable members once again for their contributions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr McLeay) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr McLeay) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– In this adjournment debate I draw the attention of the House to a copy of a letter which I received today from the Northern Regional Council for Social Development to the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle). While I would probably follow up the matter with a letter to the Minister it may raise questions in other members’ electorates, and it may lead to a review. Regional councils for social development were stimulated by the Labor Government’s desire to have the ordinary people in the community involved in social matters. The Northern Regional Council covers the municipalities of Northcote, Preston and Heidelberg and the shires of Diamond Valley, Eltham and Whittlesea. That region is extremely well served by 2 regional offices of the Department of Social Security- that is, at Preston and Greenborough. The office at Preston is in my electorate. The staff are most helpful. The members of this Regional Council want to draw the attention of the Minister to what they consider to be an unfortunate gap at Preston in what is otherwise an excellent service. The letter states:
Within our community there is a very large and increasing number of unemployed people, more particularly of our concern in the Preston/Reservoir and West Heidelberg areas. As there are also 2 large public hospitals and numerous other health facilities situated in the area, the number of people claiming unemployment and sickness benefits must be very high, and it is our understanding that the current procedure involves processing of these claims at the Melbourne office of your Department.
On behalf of actual beneficiaries, involved individuals, agencies and organisations, such as the Commonwealth Employment Service offices at Preston and Heidelberg, Preston Employment Action Group, Program for Unemployed SelfHelp (West Heidelberg), the 2 community health centres situated in the large Housing Commission estates of Preston/Reservoir and West Heidelberg, Preston and Northcote Community Hospital, Austin Hospital and North Eastern Suburbs Regional Office (Social Welfare Department), we request that you give your most urgent consideration to the relocation of an unemployment and sickness benefit component at the Preston regional office.
In effect, the Council is asking the Minister to see that the unemployment and sickness benefit component is placed in the Preston regional office of the Department of Social Security. I know the Government is very worried about matters involving extra expenditure. I know that this would involve some additional expenditure. The whole point is this: We have this problem in the electorate. There is an excellent regional office. To add this unemployment and sickness benefit component to that office would provide a service for many people who are used to the service given by the regional office. I raise the matter on the adjournment debate, not because it is a parochial issue. Of course I am interested in a parochial issue. I have represented these people for a good many years. I want to see them well looked after. It occurs to me that with the development of regional offices there may be a number of other areas that are suffering from this same problem and that there are large numbers whose claims have to go to the central office for processing when they could be processed just as easily at these regional offices. That is an appeal by the Northern Regional Council for Social Development to the Minister. I suppose it is not a bad general principle at which the Government should be looking- the identification of these areas and the provision of this sort of service to people who appreciate their regional offices and who would benefit by the provision of this service.
-During the lengthy recess we had the opportunity to get around our electorates on many occasions. Unfortunately I came across a report in one of the newspapers in my electorate, the Shoalhaven and Nowra News, which requires a reply from me. In most matters it is a most reliable and a very sensible newspaper. In fact it has received commendations from the Press organisations for its competence. However, during the recess I noticed an unfortunate article in which the Shoalhaven and Nowra News had unwittingly printed as fact statements made in this House by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). If the editor of that newspaper had been more experienced in matters of this House he might have recognised that he was obviously at risk in undertaking such a venture. He would have recognised the reputation of the honourable member, quite generously earned I would imagine, in this House. The honourable member for Chifley, from the fancies of his mind, claimed that I had been a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. He outlined this at great length. The only reason I raise this matter tonight is that it appeared as a Press report. The newspaper ran it as fact. At the time I did not consider that the whimsical activities of the honourable member for Chifley merited an answer, because they were obviously so ludicrous. The facts were available to anyone who wished to find out. The honourable member for Chifley is not and has not, to my knowledge in the year that I have been a member, been terribly concerned with facts. I was obliged to deny this report in the subsequent issue of the newspaper. It expressed its regret for having accepted the word of the honourable member for Chifley.
The facts are that contrary to what the honourable member for Chifley said, I left Sydney in 1953 because I had been appointed to a post in the Policy Division of the Department of National Development in Canberra. As a result, I had ceased to be a member, as he alleged, of the Gordon branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1956. 1 had left to come to Canberra in 1 953. The honourable member for Chifley went on at great length about how this branch had split. He obviously knows an immense amount about the DLP. One wonders whether he must have been under some alias or whether he was an undercover agent of it, otherwise how could he possibly have such detailed information? In any event, his speech was a total fancy of his imagination. At no stage did I have anything to do with the DLP. That is in no way a reflection on the DLP, nor will I hope it be taken as a reflection on me.
– What about me?
– I am not a martyr to any cause, unlike the honourable member for Swan. But the fact is that the honourable member for Chifley was trying to create an atmosphere of sinister wickedness in my past. I regret that I cannot satisfy the honourable member’s desire for drama. I have had a very dull life. Probably one of the dullest things I did during my life was to spend 2 years playing football with the honourable member for Prospect. Apart from that I have no misdemeanours of the order that the honourable member for Chifley finds attractive. I wish simply to place on record that at no stage ever in my life have I been a member, comtemplated or been aligned with such attitudes as one could regard as belonging to the DLP.
– I shall take only a couple of minutes to draw to the attention of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard), who is at the table, a matter which a constituent of mine has asked me to raise. The Bureau of Customs, which is under the control of the Minister, has possibly been more affected than other government departments by staff ceilings. The allegation has been made to me that the Bureau has insufficient staff to check the manifests of imports. It is claimed that the Bureau relies to a large extent on the honesty of importers in respect of the number of items, textiles or whatever, that are being imported.
It has been pointed out to me that the Australian population loses in 2 ways. First, the community loses because of the loss of duty that should have been collected. Secondly, goods that are allowed in without the payment of duty but in certain restricted quantities create extra competition for the Australian manufacturers. This claim has been made by someone who is working in the Bureau. I hope that the Minister will look at this matter to see whether there is any substance in the claim or whether anything can be done to check on the method of reconciling the manifests with the quantity of goods imported.
– I wish to raise a problem that has developed throughout my electorate over the last 2 months. I have no doubt that many other members are experiencing the same difficulty in their electorates.
– No, it is not unemployment. The problem which I raise revolves around the attitude of banks, and particularly bank managers who are using the Federal Government as an excuse when refusing people loans. I should like to state briefly the Government’s policy in this respect. The Federal Government is not restricting banks in lending money. What is happening is that bank managers who have little backbone, who are hesitant to say no to customers requests and who are not prepared to say that a loan does not fall within the category of their banks are saying: ‘I am sorry, the Government will not let us lend any money’. They say that instead of coming out and giving a true and honest answer.
Let me explain what the Government’s policy has been in this respect. The Government, through the Reserve Bank, has asked the trading banks of Australia voluntarily to restrict their lending to $100m per month. I might add that that is a pretty generous sort of limit, because when the banks lent money unchecked a few months ago the highest monthly amount lent was $109m and the average was $100m a month. So the Reserve Bank has instructed the trading banks to keep their lending to around the average of $ 100m a month. The figures show that the banks have the money and that they are still lending, but I am concerned about a possible change that could take place in their lending pattern. We all know that today banks have hire purchase subsidiaries. A person who goes along to a bank to borrow a small amount of money is immediately directed into the personal loan area or is advised to arrange a loan from the bank’s hire purchase subsidiary, in which case he has to pay interest of between 16 per cent and 18 per cent. I would like to see a fair thing done for the public of Australia and people on the other side of the House are not always willing to do that.
I do not know whether many people realise that banks are not restricted by the interest rate that is determined by the Reserve Bank when they lend large sums of money. I think that they are not restricted above $75,000. However, below $75,000 they are restricted to the standard trading bank interest rates. Therefore, there is a willingness on the part of banks to lend large sums of money and to neglect small businesses, people who want to do alterations to their homes and people who do not qualify for the savings bank loan but who want to buy homes. There is a tendency for banks to neglect the small people and to lend money out in larger amounts where they can get marginally higher interest rates.
Although banks probably would not admit it, there is a tendency for them to lend larger sums of money because they have the same amount of overhead whether they lend $100,000 or $10,000. Therefore, banks prefer to lend the larger amounts because the same amount of time is spent signing papers as is spent with lending smaller amounts.
– What are you going to do about it?
– I am doing something now. I am telling the Australian public not to accept the assertion by their bank managers that the Federal Government has stopped them lending money. I want to tell the Australian people that the money is available. The Government has not placed restrictions on lending. The next time that bank managers are asked for a loan I ask them to have a little more backbone, to explain the truth to their customers and not to hide behind the assertion that the Government will not let them lend money. The banks are not terribly restricted. The restrictions by which they are bound are quite generous. There is no credit squeeze. There is plenty of money for the Aus.tralian people. It is just that this money is not going to the small person or the small business.
-Tonight I do not wish to speak about parsimonious bank managers. However, I do wish to speak about the management of money and particularly of welfare funds by the Federal Government. It is my unfortunate duty to draw to the attention of the House this evening the very critical position in which an innovative welfare project in my electorate has been placed as a result of a Government decision communicated to that group today. In the electorate of Grayndler and in some of the adjoining electorates, including some parts of the electorate of St George, a project is conducted by a group called Kids Activities Newtown.
-The yellow bus?
– The magic yellow bus which, as the honourable member for Barton knows, has been positioned in front of Parliament House for the past couple of days. I had the pleasure of launching that bus but a few months ago, and so soon it seems that we will now see the hopes of everybody concerned with the project dashed as a result not simply of a hard-hearted decision of this Government but of a particularly ill-advised one. It is in that kind of spirit that I now want to again go over for the benefit of Government supporters as well as for members of the Opposition the essence of this project. I urge that the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) reconsider her decision.
Honourable members should have regard for the physical environment that exists in inner city Sydney. It is an environment particularly lacking in open recreational space and the access to that space is made very difficult by the large number of arterial and sub-arterial roads that run through these districts. This means that in the interest of safety, children often are kept at home or within the close proximity of their home by parents. It is unlikely, as is the case in more fortunately equipped environments, that they can walk to open spaces. At the same time, it is an area, in the main, of fairly low income people and a great many families in which the mother also is a breadwinner. These people are not able to provide in every case the supervised recreation that is available in more affluent families. This is not only because of the lack of proximity to physical recreational facilities but also because of the lack of time available to take children to the limited facilities available.
In this peculiar physical environment there has been developed a project to take children from the narrow physical environment in which they move to the limited open space that is available and, when at this open space, to confront their senses with new opportunities, with innovative toys, with toys of a size and scale which no home, not even the most affluent one, generally has, and with games that excite the imagination. It is a project designed to open up to the children of families which are amongst the most deprived in our community an opportunity for at least some recreation which can develop their intelligence and their senses. This is done through a bus which moves around the district, picks up children and takes them to other areas under supervision. The project also serves as a communication facility for the parents, to put them in contact with each other, to help them plug into the welfare services which are so puzzling. Every member of this House comes into contact day after day with befuddled constituents.
Today the Minister for Social Security, instead of acceding to the request for a grant of $28,000 which previously was paid through the Australian Assistance Plan, has given this project a once only grant of $5,000. That is simply not enough for the maintenance of the vehicle and for the materials used by this project. It will not cover any wage or salary costs of any staff connected with it. The Minister suggests that the Australian Assistance Plan has been taken over by the State governments. In fact, in her notorious statement of 21 April 1976 nothing was suggested other than that the matter should be negotiated with the States. No State will take on a commitment to extra funding when it knows that if it does so the Federal Government will chop its financial assistance by that amount. I urge the Minister in the name of all compassion, to reconsider this very worthwhile project which is the antithesis of waste and extravagance.
-The Kids Activities Newtown project is an extremely worthy project. It carries out some activities in the St George electorate, in particular at Arncliffe and some other places. It caters not only for children who are taken from one place to the other but also for children in the immediate vicinity that the bus visits. I have had the opportunity to inspect the bus and I have been extremely impressed with the wide range of the facilities that are made available. The history of the dealings between the project managers and the Department of Social Security has not been particularly happy, to say the least. It is not easy to find out exactly what has occurred. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Antony Whitlam) with whom I join in urging the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) to reconsider this matter, and I over the last few days have approached the Minister’s office on a number of occasions and also have discussed the matter in depth with the project managers.
Project managers’ is probably a misleading term because in fact the persons running the venture are volunteers. They are persons who have to devote their work time to the activity. They are considerably burdened by what appear to us at times to be minor matters such as telephone calls and the like. It is no easy thing to have to pay out of one’s own pocket for long distance telephone calls to departments in Canberra or other places and not to be able to get reimbursement. The Australian Assistance Plan in fact was offered to the States under the federalism policy last year. The 20.6 per cent larger general purpose grants to New South Wales, far exceeding the inflation rate, obviously were designed to assist the New South Wales Government if it chose to take over the Australian Assistance Plan. The New South Wales Minister for Youth and Community Services, Mr Jackson, was reported in the Press initially as saying that the New South Wales Government would take over the Australian Assistance Plan. That has not eventuated. I do not know the attitude of that Government. I certainly hope that it wil take over as many projects as possible. I hope that its attitude is not to make as much political capital as possible at the expense of the Federal Government before doing what its Minister was originally reported as saying it would do.
Be that as it may, I understand that the Kids Activities Newtown group was funded to the extent of $28,000 last year and that the running costs Will amount to $28,000 for the next year. The persons associated with the project appear to me to be persons of considerable credibility and one could take their assessment of the running costs as accurate. I think they made an application originally under the Australian Assistance Plan. I am not certain of the exact details. Their application was processed by the Department and apparently they were told that AAP matters were not being dealt with by the Federal Government any more but that the Office of Child Care would look into the matter. They subsequently made an application to the Office of Child Care. I understand that a person from that office visited the project and looked at it. Since then there appears to have been some delay in the Department. This delay, according to our system of government, regrettably is to be referred to the Minister for Social Security.
I understand that since the matter came to the Minister’s attention every effort has been made to look at it in detail and carefully. The net result has been a letter stating in substance that $5,000 wil be offered as a once-only figure, instead of the $28,000, and that the persons concerned should look to the AAP for consideration of further funding through the State. These people have been put back 5 or 6 months in their appUcation. The $5,000 will last a maximum of about 10 weeks. To start again, to take time off work, to give up holidays, which the manager would have to do, and to engage in the expense of starting again with the State Government is a very serious problem. The letter is not absolutely conclusive that the position is final. An offer is stated, and I think that in that letter there is room for the Minister to manoeuvre and perhaps to consider granting a full year’s donation to enable this one-off situation, this very difficult problem that has arisen, to be resolved within a period of 12 months to the satisfaction of the people concerned with this extremely worthy project.
-The House was treated yesterday to a long winded attempt by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) to convince Australians that record levels of unemployment and uncontrolled inflation are indicators of a healthy economy and sound economic management. The Treasurer’s statement was a repetitive monologue that could have been written or, more correctly, put together by his staff pasting up old Treasury Press statements. It said nothing about how the Government would reduce unemployment. It said nothing about how inflation could be reduced by a government that applies health taxes, proposes increases in oil prices and fuels inflation by a hasty and unnecessary devaluation of the Australian currency. What a record- and the Treasurer has the gall to refer to substantial progress. To add insult to injury, he suggests- in fact demands- that Australians suffer a dramatic reduction in their disposable incomes and in their standard of living. He said:
The Government intends, in the period ahead, to press very strongly indeed for a maximum measure of wage restraint.
Those are his words and his Government’s policy. The Australian public is to be forced to finance this Government’s second attempt to reduce inflation. But not aU Australians are to be requested to join this ill-conceived crusade. A fortunate few wil reap the benefits of this policy and continue to award themselves generous pay increases. I refer to those friends of the Government who quietly pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Liberal Party and National Country Party coffers at every election. I refer to the directors of large public companies. These men constantly brow beat unions and use all their influence to reduce the real wages of their employees, while awarding themselves handsome pay rises. I refer particularly to the directors of Australian Fertilizers Ltd. I have in my hand a letter given to me by one of the shareholders of that company. Shortly I will ask that the letter, which is on Australian Fertilizers Ltd letterhead, and in respect of which I have consulted the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, be incorporated in Hansard. At the annual general meeting of the shareholders which was held at 3 o’clock today at North Sydney, the directors sought substantial increases in their fees. The directors of this company will no doubt have received by now an increase of 67 per cent in the total amount of directors’ fees paid to the 8 members of the board at a time when most Australians are being asked to accept no increase in their wages, despite raging inflation. This sordid story does not end there. This same company, Australian Fertilizers Ltd, increased the price of bagged superphosphate that it supplies to farmers by $3.40 a tonne on 1 January this year.
-Who said that?
– I have the correspondence in my hand. If the honourable member for La Trobe wishes to read the letter I will allow him to do so. If the Government is really committed to wage restraint by all Australians, let it speak out against the unwarranted and blatant abuse of shareholders’ funds. But what do we hear? We hear deafening silence. The Government cannot afford to offend the people who keep it on the treasury benches; the men who bankroll its attacks upon the Constitution; the men whom it must repay. They are handsomely rewarded. The Government reintroduced the superphosphate bounty in 1976. This bounty- this gift to companies such as Australian Fertilizers Ltd- will cost the Australian taxpayer $62m in 1976. The same taxpayer now is being asked to accept no increase in wages while the fat cats of industry fiddle while Rome burns. If honourable members opposite fail to raise their voices against this obnoxious and savage increase in the directors’ salaries I claim that they are totally unfit and devoid of moral worth and unworthy of representing the Australian people in this national Parliament. I ask that the letter from
Australian Fertilizers Ltd be incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The letter read as follows-
Registered under the Companies Act- 1913 Victoria
Notice is hereby given that the Fifty-Seventh Annual General Meeting of Australian Fertilizers Limited will be held in the Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 213 Miller Street, North Sydney, N.S.W., on Wednesday, 16 February 1977, at 3.00 p.m.
By Order of the Board A. Simpson, Secretary
-I wish to say only a few words. A couple of weeks ago I attended the opening of a home run by the St Vincent De Paul Society for derelict men and young boys who have been deserted. One could not help but realise what a tragic situation confronted these people with the breakdown of the family unit and so on. The point I should like to emphasise tonight is that the home which, as I have mentioned, is run by the St Vincent De Paul Society was an old picture theatre. The home originally was opened to look after derelict men, but the Society found that in 1977 young boys were being deserted and left in the streets in the little town of Launceston.
– That is tragic.
-I was staggered, absolutely staggered. Then I thought of politicians like myself- there are many on both sides of the House- who give a lot of Up service. They talk about this sort of a situation but they do not really know how to handle it. They do not know how to get their hands dirty. They do not know how to offer the assistance that these young deserted boys need. We can give money to these institutions. We can set up this and we can set up that but we cannot give these deserted boys a home. When I attended the opening of this home I thought to myself ‘what a magnificent organisation this is’. There are many other organisations Uke the St Vincent De Paul Society, such as the Salvation Army, about which I could talk.
– They need love and care.
-The children need love and care. They have been deserted. It seemed rather appropriate that they should be housed in an old picture theatre. A picture theatre is a place where young people go to get the enjoyment that they desire when they are young. These deserted boys are living in this place because they need a home and they are trying to put some meaning into their future life. We, as politicians, should start to realise that there are tremendous problems in this area. They are problems about which we should think a little more. We should go to the people in these organisations, talk to them and help them a little more by giving them the moral support that they need. Money is important but they need to know that other people care. If politicians show them interest I think they would have a sense of satisfaction. Many organisations help people in need but some of these organisations do not seem to get the rewards that are necessary. I hope that honourable members in this House Will take note of this problem. In 1977 young people are being deserted and left on the streets.
– I think all honourable members in this House would join with the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) in the sentiments that he has expressed about young people in need. It is unfortunate that his colleagues in this place do not hold that same view. I hope that they will revise their outlook. I remind honourable members opposite of their great leader’s famous statement that life is not meant to be easy. I hope that when the honourable member for Franklin returns to his electorate he wil say: ‘I am sorry, boys. I want to help you but my leader says that life is not meant to be easy. I am sorry’.
Earlier this evening we heard a bleating contribution from the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield) who complained that bank managers are not telling the truth. Towards the end of last year the statisticians who were preparing the figures for the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations could not produce the correct seasonally adjusted unemployment figures in Australia. Therefore, the Government decided to discontiue producing seasonally adjusted unemployment figures. As far as the Government was concerned, it was the Department’s fault; the figures could not be relied upon. Now the consumer price index figures for December cannot be relied upon, because they wil not produce the kind of result that this Government wants to hear. Therefore, the basket of goods has to be changed. The Department now has to try to cook a set of figures which Will bring about the results that the Government wants to hear. We now have a back bencher from a marginal seat coming forward and saying: ‘It is these terrible bank managers. They have not got sufficient backbone to tell the public what the Government is really saying’. If what the honourable member for Barton has said is accurate, it means that the new lending rate in his electorate has been cut by only 8 per cent. I should Uke to inform him that in my electorate bank managers have been instructed to reduce new lending by 50 per cent. That is the instruction which has gone out to bank managers. The bank managers themselves are very worried about small businesses. They predict a crunch on small businesses in the coming quarter. Surely there is no way this Government, with its iron clad policies, can off-load the blame on to the local bank managers. For heaven’s sake! After all, the Bank of New South Wales is a major contributor to the making of the policy of the Government parties. It is a major contributor to their funds. Surely honourable members opposite should have the decency to stand up in this place and accept the responsibility for their policies. They should not try to off-load the blame on to the bank managers.
We have heard much about inflation and devaluation from honourable members opposite. In the last couple of days we have heard the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) defending devaluation. I want to draw the attention of honourable members opposite to a statement attributed to the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Sinclair) in the Land on 14 October, only 45 days before devaluation. The article stated:
The gang of four- inner Cabinet this week stood firm against demands from agricultural and mining leaders to alter the currency alignment in favour of exports.
Now we are told that this is the right policy to be following. The Minister for Primary Industry is reported as saying:
Do not be fooled into regarding devaluation as a cureall,’ the Minister for Primary Industry . . . said in an interview.
Inflation is our main worry’.
I ask honourable members opposite to note this. The Minister then is reported as having said:
Any immediate currency change would prompt another inflationary spurt that would quickly offset any advantage it might bring to exporters. ‘
– The Deputy Leader of the National Country Party said that. The 4 Government leaders to whom I referred earlier said that it would only cause another spurt of inflation. Yesterday we were told by the Treasurer that devaluation is the answer to inflation. I put it to honourable members opposite that they ought to think seriously about this matter. I know that honourable members opposite do not like to raise in their own Caucus rooms matters that are contentious, but they should ask the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party what caused him to have such a reversal of opinion on what was the right financial policy for this nation. I repeat his words:
Any immediate currency change would prompt another inflationary spun that would quickly offset any advantage it might bring exporters. ‘
-Order! It being11 p.m., the debate is interrupted.
– I would like very quickly to respond to the remarks of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) who raised the question of the adequacy of the staff of the Customs Bureau to deal with the documentation concerning imports into Australia. The honourable member was not very specific and it is therefore difficult for me to respond in precise terms but I will have his remarks analysed and respond to him by letter as soon as possible. I would make 3 observations. Firstly, I assure the honourable member and the House that the application of staff ceilings has fallen no more heavily on any particular part of the Public Service than it has on any other part. Insofar as the sections in my own Department and the statutory authorities within my own administration are concerned, there has been no design to single out any section for unfair treatment. I believe that the job of the staff in the Customs Bureau in this area is difficult. I believe the staff members perform their functions in an extremely capable manner. I appreciate the spirit in which the honourable member raised this matter. Naturally the Government would be concerned if the type of matters to which the honourable member referred were occurring. I will certainly have a look at the matter and respond to him in greater detail.
-The debate having concluded, the House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
officer of that Department designated for that purpose by the Secretary.
The honourable member’s attention is also directed to section 1 19 (2) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which permits persons (other than arbitration inspectors), registered organisations and parties to an award or order to sue for a penalty and recover monies owing to employees.
asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
am asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The assurance given by Mr Garland in 1972 remains valid regarding risk. In addition to debris from experiments carried out in the area, some small quantities of radioactive material from the following sources are also buried at Maralinga:
Imports of Rural Products from New Zealand (Question No. 1786)
asked the Minister for Overseas Trade on 8 December 1976 the following question, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member ‘s question is as follows:
1972-73 1973-74 1974-75
Nil Nil $6.682m
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to his Question No. 1801 and the answers thereto, which overlap with this question.
1 ) The only funds expended that can be specifically identified as being within the Division of Macarthur are:
asked the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In 1 974-75 $ 1 28,000 was allocated. In 1975-76 $50,000 was allocated.
It should also be noted that in 1975-76 a block grant of $50,000 was made to the Sport and Recreation Service of N.S.W. to allocate the small projects at their discretion. Some of these may have been of use in Macarthur.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
With reference to the answer to Question No. 1267, exactly what consideration is being given by the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance to the branding of retreaded tyres, and when will some recommendations be forthcoming.
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have been advised that the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance has been participating in the preparation of Australian Standard 1973 for retreaded tyres. The Standard was published recently and requires branding. It is open to retreaders to commence its use. No doubt most will do so.
I have also been advised that a regulation on branding of retreaded tyres is still under consideration by the Committee but its incorporation in Draft Regulations would be a matter for the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
The earliest opportunity for the Australian Transport Advisory Council to consider any recommendation on this matter will be at the July 1 97 7 meeting.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 February 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1977/19770216_reps_30_hor103/>.